Only guy who put us in semifinals was Brian Lara and we proved him right Rashid

KINGSTOWN: West Indian batting great Brian Lara had predicted Afghanistan would reach the T20 World Cup semifinals nearly a month before the tournament began and now that the giant-slayers have made it, skipper Rashid Khan said he is immensely proud to have proved the legend right.

Afghanistan continued their brilliant run at the T20 World Cup as they marched to their first-ever World Cup semifinal with an eight-run win over Bangladesh in the last Super 8 clash here.

“The only guy who put us in the semifinals was Brian Lara and we proved him right. When we met him at a welcome party, I told him we won’t let you down,” Rashid said at the post-match presentation.

Lara, in an interaction with PTI editors at its headquarters last month, had predicted that Afghanistan would be among the semifinalists in the mega-event.

“Afghanistan, they are capable of getting into the (last) four,” Lara had said, while picking his tournament favourites.

Rashid said the conviction that they could advance to the semifinals was ignited by their triumph over heavyweights New Zealand in the group stage.

“It’s a dream for us to be in the semifinals. The way we started the tournament, the belief came when we beat New Zealand. It’s unbelievable,” he recalled.

Afghanistan also picked up a historic win over Australia before beating Bangladesh in the final Super 8 fixture to set up semifinal date with South Africa on June 27.

Against Bangladesh, Afghanistan were restricted to 115/5 but the bowlers led by Naveen Ul Haq and Rashid propelled them to a thrilling eight-run win.

“We thought 130-135 was a good score but we fell 15 runs short. We knew they would come hard at us and we knew that is what we could take advantage of. We didn’t need to do anything extra, just be clear in our plans.

Pacers Naveen and Fazalhaq Farooqi have excelled with the new ball all through the campaign and Rashid couldn’t be happier.

“In T20s if you get a good start, it helps us in the middle overs. They have given great starts to us in the whole competition. It makes it easier for us to go harder at the batsmen.

“They have delivered, they were very clear in their minds,” Rashid said.

On the several rain interruptions that eventually led the match to be truncated, Rashid said they were mentally ready to pick all 10 wickets.

“Rain is something not in our hands but mentally we knew we have to play 20 overs and take 10 wickets.

“That’s the only way we could win. But Gulbadin, he had some cramps. But his wicket was invaluable to us,” he said.

The skipper reckoned there will be huge celebration back home.

“It’s a big achievement for us as well. We have done that at U-19 level but at this World Cup, I don’t have any words to describe the feeling back home. We have to go into the semis with a very clear mind and make sure we enjoy the occasion,” he said.


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