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Rashid: Semi-final is ‘massive inspiration for youngsters’ back home


Naveen calls it "a surreal experience" as Afghanistan beat Bangladesh in a dramatic finish in Kingstown

Rashid Khan expressed his profound joy at Afghanistan’s qualification for the T20 World Cup semi-final, describing it as an “unbelievable feeling” and a significant source of inspiration for young people in Afghanistan.

“The semi-final is going to be a massive, massive inspiration for the youngsters back home in Afghanistan,” Rashid said after Afghanistan defeated Bangladesh in St Vincent, securing their spot in the final four and eliminating Australia from the tournament. “This is the first time our Afghanistan team has reached the semi-finals at this level. We’ve achieved it at the Under-19 level before, but never at this stage. Even making it to the Super Eight was a first for us, and now we’re in the semi-finals. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

Reflecting on their journey, Rashid emphasized the importance of simplicity and resilience throughout the competition. “We are capable, but as long as we keep things very simple, which is what we’ve done throughout the competition,” he said. “There were tough times, but we never let ourselves down and always came back stronger.”

After posting a total of 115 for 5, Rashid and Naveen-ul-Haq each took four wickets to bundle out Bangladesh for 105, eight runs short of their adjusted target of 114 in 19 overs.

“It’s like a dream for us as a team to be in the semi-final,” Rashid said. “It’s all about how we started the tournament. The belief grew when we defeated New Zealand. It’s unbelievable. I don’t have words to describe my feelings. Back home, everyone is incredibly happy about this. I think the only person who believed in us reaching the semi-final was Brian Lara. At the welcome party, I told him, ‘We won’t let you down. We’ll prove you right.'”

While Afghanistan only needed a win to qualify for the knockout stage, Bangladesh faced a tougher challenge, needing to chase down the target in 12.1 overs, which Afghanistan exploited. The match saw shifts in momentum due to rain, but Afghanistan ultimately secured victory.

“In our minds, we felt 130-135 was a good total on this wicket, but we fell short by 15-20 runs,” Rashid explained. “However, in previous games, 115 was the best total on this wicket. It was all about mindset. We knew they would come hard at us to chase it in 12 overs to reach the semi-final, and we took advantage of that.”

Rashid praised his fast bowlers, particularly Naveen, named Player of the Match, and Fazalhaq Farooqi, the tournament’s leading wicket-taker. “They made our job easier,” Rashid said. “In T20s, a strong start allows our spinners to attack in the middle overs, something we lacked before. Now, with these quality fast bowlers, though not the fastest, their skill makes them effective. They’ve given us great starts in the competition. Their clarity of mind is very pleasing to me.”

Naveen described the experience as surreal, noting the unpredictability of T20 matches. “In these games, anything can happen,” he said. “After conceding a boundary, it felt like the game was slipping away. Suddenly, taking a wicket brought us back into contention. The margin for error is tiny. But we had confidence in these conditions not being high-scoring. As long as we avoided easy runs and took wickets, we knew we were in the game. Thankfully, that’s what happened.”


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