With the wind behind their sails after beating England comprehensively two days ago, Afghanistan will look to build on only its second World Cup win when it takes on New Zealand at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday.
More than the result, what was impressive about Afghanistan’s 69-run win in Delhi on Sunday was how it outplayed the defending champion and always had its nose ahead throughout the match.
Right from Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s brutal onslaught at the top of the order – as he and Ibrahim Zadran added a 114-run opening stand – Afghanistan came out all guns blazing before their spinners spun a web around the English batters.
After being bundled out cheaply in its first match against Bangladesh, Afghanistan batters had much more disciplined performances in the two games against India and England, albeit on the most batting-friendly pitches seen so far in the tournament.
It was something its skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi had even said on the eve of the tournament when he remarked, “I believe in this World Cup we will give a statement about the batting that we can be very good.”
At the same time, the team will also be aware that it left runs on the table in the last two matches as it lost wickets in a cluster during the middle phase of the game. Ahead of the match against the Kiwis, the Afghan skipper cited it as an area the team needs to work on. If it can put the runs on board, the team has a good depth in bowling to trouble most teams on their day.
Meanwhile, New Zealand, once again without skipper Kane Williamson, will look to continue its march and keep its unbeaten record. The team has gone about its business in its inimitable style, with almost every player delivering so far in their well-defined roles. The key to the Black Caps’ three wins has been the ability to take wickets through the middle phase, with the likes of Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson delivering the goods.
While the Tom Latham-led side will be wary of the spin threat of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Mohammad Nabi, the Kiwis will still feel it holds the edge, having been in the city for the last week and having a good read of the conditions.
/ 3 years ago
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