DUBAI: New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell watches the ball after playing a shot during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup cricket match between India and New Zealand at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium yesterday. – AFP

DUBAI: Trent Boult led an inspired bowling attack as New Zealand thrashed Twenty20 World Cup favorites India by eight wickets on Sunday to leave Virat Kohli’s men facing a desperate struggle to reach the semi-finals. Boult and leg-spinner Ish Sodhi shared five wickets between them to restrict India to 110 for seven after being invited to bat first in the Super 12 clash in Dubai.

Skipper Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell, who made 49, put 72 runs for the second wicket as the Kiwis romped home in 14.3 overs and hand India their second straight loss of the tournament. Jasprit Bumrah denied Mitchell his maiden fifty but the wicket proved a minor blemish for the Kiwis, who bounced back from their opening loss to group toppers Pakistan.

India, who lost their first Super 12 match to Pakistan by 10 wickets, remain in danger of slipping out of the race for the semi-finals. Boult dismissed Ishan Kishan for four and nearly had Rohit Sharma on the next ball but Adam Milne dropped an easy catch at fine leg. Milne, who replaced Tim Seifert as the only change in the New Zealand team from their opening loss to Pakistan, then gave away 15 runs from his first over with Sharma hitting the fast bowler for a four and a six.

But the New Zealand pace bowlers kept coming at the Indian batsmen as Tim Southee got KL Rahul walking back for 18 with another pull shot that found the fielder. Sharma fell to Sodhi for 14, this time giving away a catch to long-on where Guptill made no mistake. Sodhi dismissed Kohli for nine after the captain mistimed a shot to be caught at long on and walked back to stunned silence at a stadium packed with Indian fans. Hardik Pandya, who made 23, and Ravindra Jadeja, 26 not out, put up some resistance with a partnership of 24 that was broken by Boult who struck twice in his final over.

Mohammed Shami, the only Muslim player in the India team, walked in to loud cheers after being mercilessly trolled following the 10-wicket defeat to Pakistan. Jadeja hit two fours and one six in his 19-ball stay. In reply, Martin Guptill started on an attacking note to smash three boundaries before falling to Bumrah who returned figures of 2-19. Mitchell took on the Indian bowlers as he hit left-arm spinner Jadeja for a six and then got another shot over the fence to bring up New Zealand’s fifty in the seventh over. He departed with New Zealand needing 15 and Devon Conway joined Williamson to complete the formalities.

Afghanistan beat Namibia
Earlier, Afghanistan bid an emotional farewell to former captain Asghar Afghan by beating Namibia by 62 runs in the T20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Asghar scored 31 as Afghanistan batted first and made 160-5. Afghanistan’s seamers then took eight wickets as they restricted Namibia to 98-9. Hamid Hassan, making his first T20 international appearance in five years, and Naveen-ul-Haq both took three wickets.

Naveen was named player of the match but presented his award to Asghar. “He was the best captain Afghanistan has produced,” he said. “I want to dedicate this man of the match in his last match. We will miss him a lot.” Speaking after the first innings, an emotional Asghar discussed his decision to retire mid-tournament in an on-field interview saying he had made the choice after Friday’s loss to regional rivals Pakistan.

“From the last match we were hurt too much and that is why I decided to leave the stage,” he said. “It’s very difficult to explain, but I had to retire. I wanted to give a chance to the youngsters,” he said. Asghar skippered Afghanistan over all three formats of cricket. He played six Tests, 114 one-day internationals and this was his 75th Twenty20 international in a career spread over 12 years. The current captain Mohammad Nabi said after the game that he had not been able to change Asghar’s mind.

Nabi won the toss and again bucked the trend at the World Cup by opting to bat first. Mohammad Shahzad gave Afghanistan a fast start with 45 off 33 balls including two sixes. After he holed out at deep square leg off JJ Smit, opening partner Hazratullah Zazai accelerated, smashing a pair of sixes in his 33. Leg-spinner Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton dismissed Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Najibullah Zadran cheaply to briefly slow batting momentum. Play briefly halted when Asghar came in to bat and Namibia greeted him by lining up and applauding. Asghar hit a brisk 31 off 23 balls with three fours and a six.

‘Good seamers’
After Ruben Trumpelmann dismissed the 33-year-old with the last ball of the 19th over, there was another pause as Namibian players ran across the field to shake hands as he walked off. Nabi bashed an unbeaten 32 off 17 balls with one six and five fours, the last off the final ball to take his team to 160. Trumpelmann took two wickets for 34 runs in his four overs while Loftie-Eaton gave up just 21 runs as he took two wickets.

Afghanistan had made one change to the team that lost to Pakistan, recalling Hamid Hassan for a first appearance in five years in place of injured spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman. The change paid off as, for once, Afghanistan’s seamers did the damage. Naveen removed both openers, Craig Williams and Michael van Lingen to reduce Namibia to 16-2. He later removed Jan Frylinck to finish with 3-26. As Namibia struggled to recover from their poor start, Hamid dismissed captain Gerhard Erasmus with a yorker, JJ Smit and top scorer David Wiese, who made 26. – AFP