India were sent packing from the T20 World Cup after a clinical New Zealand clinched an eight-wicket triumph over Afghanistan in their final Super 12 game to claim the last available semifinal spot on Sunday.
India's slim hopes hinged on Afghanistan upstaging the Kiwis as that would have brought the net run-rate into equation and open the doors for Virat Kohli's men, who only have themselves to blame for the ouster now.
The Kiwis were favourites to win on the day and they hardly put a foot wrong, chasing down a small target of 125 in just 18.1 overs to join England, Australia and Pakistan in the last-four stage.
Sunday's result renders India's final Super 12 engagement, against Namibia inconsequential. The team was outplayed in its first two Super 12 matches by Pakistan and New Zealand, which caused their undoing.
Kane Williamson's men, who won four of their five Super 12 matches, will be up against either England or Australia in the semi-finals.
Openers Daryl Mitchell (17), caught behind by the Mohammad Shahzad off Mujeeb ur Rahman, and Martin Guptill (28), who became Rashid Khan's 400th wicket in T20 cricket, were the only New Zealand wickets to fall in the run chase.
Williamson (40 not out, 42 balls, 3 fours) looked unhurried during his knock and his half-century partnership for the third wicket with Devon Conway (36 not out) guided the team home. They negotiated the spin threat posed by Rashid, Mujeeb and Mohammed Nabi quite well to ensure that there was no drama.
Conway got over a tentative start and hit Nabi for two boundaries in the 14th over to speed up the chase after a brief lull.
Earlier, New Zealand pacers, led by Trent Boult (3/17), dished out a clinical performance to restrict Afghanistan to 124 for 8.
Afghanistan, who needed to win to keep their semifinal hopes alive, reached the total mainly due to the efforts of Najibullah Zadran (73 off 48 balls). Zadran stood out in a rather tepid display by the rest of his team-mates. He struck six fours and three sixes during his brilliant innings.
The Kiwi pace trio of Boult, Tim Southee (2/24) and Adam Milne (1/17) did not give anything away. Add Neesham's 1/24 to that and the pace quadruple conceded only 82 runs in their 116 overs combined, picking seven wickets as well. None of them went at an economy of more than 6 per over. As a result, Williamson bowled only two overs each of Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi. Neesham conceded only two runs from the final over of the Afghanistan innings.
Earlier, the Kiwi pacers bombarded the Afghan batters with back of a length or short deliveries, making life for tough for them. They stayed away from the fruitful region for the Afghan batters - the full length area - that left them perplexed. The two openers - Mohammad Shahzad and Hazratullah Zazai were both out to the back of a length deliveries.
Consequently, Afghanistan got off to a poor start, losing the openers inside the first four overs.
Shahzad (4) was the first to go in the third over when his uppercut off Milne flew to wicketkeeper Devon Conway, who leapt high to complete a good catch on the second attempt. The wily Boult struck the second blow, getting Hazratullah Zazai when the batter's attempted flick took a leading edge for an easy catch to Mitchell Santner, leaving Afghanistan at 12 for 2.
Soon, it became 19 for 3 when Rahmanullah Gurbaz was leg-before to Tim Southee for 6.
The left-handed Najibullah Zadran rescued Afghanistan with a 59-run fifth wicket stand with captain Mohammed Nabi (14). The team was placed at 56 for 4 in 10 overs when the two got together and dug their heels in.
However, there was very little support from the other batters. A flurry of wickets after the fall of Nabi, including that of Zadran, ensured that Afghanistan did not get to a middling score.
Boult sent back Zadran and Karim Janat (2) in the 19th over as the Kiwis took control of the match. Afghanistan, thus ended with a below par score.
"150-160 would have been a decent total on this pitch," assessed the Afghanistan skipper, Mohammad Nabi in the post-match presentation. "150-155 would have been par," Kane Williamson agreed in his interview later.