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Australia’s T20 World Cup hopes in tatters after historic loss to minnows

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Australia suffered a shock 21-run loss to Afghanistan in the T20 World Cup
  • Australia beaten by Afghanistan in shocking T20 World Cup defeat
  • It was Australia’s first loss to the nation while the campaign is in tatters.
  • Australia’s upcoming clash against India has become a must-win match

Australia have suffered a shock 21-run defeat to Afghanistan that puts their Twenty20 World Cup semi-final hopes in jeopardy.

Australia’s first loss to Afghanistan came after openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (60 off 49 balls) and Ibrahim Zadran (51 off 48) challenged a devilish St Vincent’s wicket for a 118-run stand – the biggest opening partnership ever recorded against Australia in T20.

With his second hat-trick in as many matches, the quick and in-form Pat Cummins (3-28) helped Australia bounce back and limit Afghanistan to 6-148 on Sunday (AEST).

But chasing 149, Australia were deceived by the tough conditions, slipping to 3-32 late in the powerplay as the quick Afghans began to dominate the crease.

Australia suffered a shock 21-run loss to Afghanistan in the T20 World Cup

It was Australia's first loss to Afghanistan in the sport across all formats.

It was Australia’s first loss to Afghanistan in the sport across all formats.

Glenn Maxwell (59 off 41) returned to form with the bat and threatened to resume his role as Afghanistan’s bogeyman after a double century in the ODI World Cup last year.

But Afghanistan could smell victory when the all-rounder clipped player of the match Gulbadin Naib (4-20) at a backward point, where Noor Ahmad had a tough chance in the 15th over.

Australia were bowled out for 127 in the final over, bemoaning sloppy fielding and a slow start with the bat.

The defeat means Australia can rely on net run rate to reach the final four even if they manage to beat India in their final Super Eight match on Tuesday (AEST).

Afghanistan’s historic victory keeps their own hopes of a fairytale semi-final berth alive ahead of their third Super Eight match against Bangladesh.

After winning the toss, Australia missed five chances on the field, the first two during the scorching opening stand.

While Gurbaz and Zadran wreaked havoc, Matthew Wade missed an easy opportunity for a pass and Australia twice lost four after errors by Ashton Agar, called on by Mitch Starc.

After missing an earlier chance, Marcus Stoinis (1-19) had a long-awaited breakthrough when Gurbaz picked out David Warner at deep and back stretch.

The Australians will rue sloppy fielding and a slow start with the bat.

The Australians will rue sloppy fielding and a slow start with the bat.

The defeat means Australia can rely on net run rate to reach the final four even if they can beat India in their next match.

The defeat means Australia can rely on net run rate to reach the final four even if they can beat India in their next match.

When that scalp finally came, in the 16th over, it was the longest Australia had gone in a T20I without taking a wicket.

Australia’s two best front-rowers in this tournament, Adam Zampa (2-28) and Cummins, ensured that Afghanistan’s batting order never worked again once the initial partnership was broken.

Cummins became the first player to take hat-tricks in consecutive T20 games when Gulbadin (0) pulled him close to Maxwell at deep midwicket in the final over.

He could have had another scalp on the next ball if the usually reliable Warner had held Nangeyalia Kharote at deep point.

Naveen-ul-Haq (3-20) vindicated the decision to start Afghanistan’s innings with pace, flicking the ball to the middle stump of Travis Head on the third ball of the night.

Losses by Head (0) and Mitch Marsh (12) inside three overs sounded the alarm, and Australia were officially in panic mode when Afghanistan injected spin for the first time.

David Warner (three) eluded Mohammad Nabi (1-1) to short fine leg at the first delivery of offside and set the stage for Maxwell to torment Afghanistan again.

But when the all-rounder’s brave knock came to an end, Australia were on the bowlers and limped to the end at 6-106.

With Australia requiring 24 runs from the final over, Azmatullah Omarzai sealed the victory when Zampa hit it towards Nabi with four balls remaining.

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