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T20 WC: South Africa overcome semifinal curse, end Afghanistan’s dream run with nine-wicket win

South Africa broke their semi-final jinx by convincingly defeating Afghanistan to advance to their first-ever men’s T20 World Cup final on Thursday.

The Proteas, who had failed to progress from all seven of their previous World Cup semi-finals across formats, dismissed Afghanistan for 56 in 11.5 overs on a difficult pitch on their way to a nine-wicket win in Trinidad.

The Aiden Markram-led team will now face the winner of the second semifinal between India and England in the final on Saturday at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Despite chasing a modest target of 57 runs, the Proteas did not have an ideal start as wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton De Kock was dismissed in the second over with the team at 5 runs.

Following De Kock’s dismissal, South Africa’s captain Aiden Markram joined opener Reeza Hendricks at the crease. By the end of the powerplay (6 overs), the Proteas had reached 34/1 with Markram (12) and Hendricks (15) unbeaten.

South Africa reached fifty runs in 8.4 overs and clinched the game in 8.5 overs with both Markram and Hendricks remaining not out.

Earlier, Afghanistan elected to bat first but struggled from the outset as pacer Marco Jansen claimed the prized wicket of the tournament’s leading run-scorer, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who was caught for a three-ball duck by Reeza Hendricks at slips. Afghanistan was 4/1 after one over.

The Proteas maintained their pressure with the ball, and although Gulbadin Naib hit two boundaries, he was soon bowled by Jansen for nine runs off eight balls, leaving Afghanistan at 16/2 in 2.3 overs.

Kagiso Rabada further dented Afghanistan’s innings by exploiting gaps in the batsmen’s defenses, dismissing Ibrahim Zadran (2) and experienced all-rounder Mohammed Nabi (0). Afghanistan was reeling at 20/4 in 3.4 overs.

Nangeyalia Kharote became Jansen’s third victim, caught behind by De Kock for just two runs in seven balls, reducing Afghanistan to 23/5 in five overs.

By the end of the powerplay (6 overs), Afghanistan was 28/5 with Karim Janat (0*) and Azmatullah Omarzai (10*) at the crease.

The South African pacers continued their dominance, with Omarzai handing an easy catch to Tristan Stubbs at sweeper cover off Anrich Nortje’s delivery. Afghanistan was 29/6 in 6.3 overs.

Skipper Rashid Khan and Karim Janat provided brief resistance, with Rashid hitting two fours off Rabada and Karim attacking the spinners.

Afghanistan reached the 50-run mark in 9.2 overs but soon lost Karim, who was trapped leg-before-wicket by Shamsi for eight runs in 13 balls, leaving them at 50/7 in 9.3 overs.

Shamsi struck again in the same over, dismissing Noor Ahmed for a duck. Afghanistan was 50/8 in 9.5 overs.

Rashid Khan was bowled by Nortje for eight runs, and Afghanistan was 50/9 in 10.2 overs.

Shamsi took the final wicket, removing Naveen ul Haq for two runs, as Afghanistan was bowled out for 56 in 11.5 overs.

Marco Jansen (3/16) and Tabraiz Shamsi (3/6) were the standout bowlers for South Africa, while Kagiso Rabada (2/14) and Anrich Nortje (2/7) also performed admirably.

Brief Score: South Africa 60/1 in 8.5 overs (Reeza Hendricks 29*, Aiden Markram 23*, Fazalhaq Farooqi 1/11) vs Afghanistan 56 (Azmatullah Omarzai 10, Gulbadin Naib 9, Marco Jansen 3/16).

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