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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 has described Afghanistan's qualification for the T20 World Cup semi-final as an "unbelievable feeling" and that it would be a "massive inspiration" for youngsters back home.
"I think the semi-final is going to be a massive, massive inspiration for the youngsters back home in Afghanistan," Rashid said after Afghanistan beat Bangladesh in St Vincent to secure their place in the final four and knock Australia out. "That Afghanistan team got into the semis for the first time. We have done it at Under-19 level, but this level we haven't done that. Even Super Eight was first time for us and then in semis. It's unbelievable feeling … We are capable - but as long we keep things very simple, and I think in the whole competition so far, we kept the thing simple. Yes, there were some tough times but we didn't let ourselves down and we always try to come back stronger."
After Afghanistan posted 115 for 5, Rashid and Naveen-ul-Haq picked up four wickets each to help bundle out Bangladesh for 105, eight short of their DLS-adjusted target of 114 in 19 overs.
"It's something like a dream for us as a team to be in the semi-final," Rashid said after the match. "It's all about the way we had started the tournament. The belief came when we beat New Zealand. So it's unbelievable. I don't have any words to describe my feelings. Definitely back home everyone is so, so happy for this.
"I think the only guy who had us in the semi-final was Brian Lara. At the welcome party, I told him, 'We won't let you down. We will prove that you are right.'"
While Afghanistan needed only a win to qualify for the knockouts, the equation for Bangladesh was much tougher: they needed to chase down the target in 12.1 overs, something Afghanistan took advantage of. With rain in the air, the pendulum swung from one side to another multiple times before Afghanistan sealed the match.
"In our mind, we felt 130-135 was a good total on this wicket but we were 15-20 runs short," Rashid said. "But a few games we had watched before, 115 was the best total on this wicket. So it was all about the mindset. We knew they would come hard at us to chase it in 12 overs to get into the semi-final and that's what we could take advantage of.
"If we bowled into the stumps, we had the chance of bowling them out. We didn't need to do anything extra. We were very clear with our planning. Putting in that 100% effort is always in your hands. Rain, drizzle is not in your hand. And we had to push ourselves for people back home, for their happiness, to make the country proud. That was the discussion we had and everyone did a wonderful job."
Rashid also lauded his fast bowlers - Naveen, who was named Player of the Match, and Fazalhaq Farooqi, who is currently the leading wicket-taker in the tournament. On Monday, they combined to reduce Bangladesh to 23 for 3 inside three overs.
"That made our job easy," Rashid said. "In T20s, if you start well, that gives us spinners to attack the batters in the middle overs. That was something we were missing before. But now with the quality of the fast bowlers we have… they are not as fast but they are skilful. I feel if you have skills in T20s, you are more effective and they have given us great starts so far in the competition. They were very clear in their mind and that's something very pleasing for me."
Naveen, meanwhile, called it "a surreal experience". Apart from picking up two wickets at the start, he dismissed Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman off successive balls, punctuated by a rain break, to kick off the celebrations.
"I think these are the games where you never know what can happen," he said. "After conceding one boundary, it felt like the game was gone. Suddenly you picked up a wicket and you were back in the game. So the margin of error is very small. But yeah, we had confidence that these wickets are not high-scoring wickets. As long as we didn't give away easy runs or bowled easy balls, and picked up wickets, we were in the game. Luckily, that happened."