New Zealand is set to face Afghanistan in the 16th match of the ODI Cricket World Cup at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on October 18.
The Kiwis have had a stellar start in the tournament, securing victories in both of their matches and currently residing in the second position. In contrast, Afghanistan has managed to win just one game out of their three, placing them in the sixth position in the rankings.
New Zealand’s last encounter was against Bangladesh. Bangladesh had a shaky start, losing their first wicket on the very first ball.
Nevertheless, the experienced duo of Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan salvaged their innings after the initial setback, helping their team post a total of 245 runs.
New Zealand, despite losing an early wicket, forged two significant partnerships, ultimately cruising to victory with eight wickets in hand.
On the other hand, Afghanistan recently locked horns with England. England won the toss and opted to field. Afghanistan showcased a strong start, with Gurbaz leading the charge with an impressive 80-run inning.
Although they stumbled in the middle overs, a strong finish allowed them to reach a total of 284 runs. England, however, struggled right from the beginning, losing wickets at regular intervals, which resulted in their defeat by a substantial margin of 69 runs.
New Zealand’s performance in this World Cup has been outstanding, and they have displayed dominance in all facets of the game.
Devon Conway’s IPL experience has proven invaluable, as he continues to dazzle with his form, consistently top-scoring for his team. Will Young and Rachin Ravindra have also provided solid support at the top of the batting order.
In the bowling department, Matt Henry has been exceptional with the new ball, accumulating 8 wickets. He will receive support from Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson. New Zealand’s spin hopes are pinned on Mitchell Santner, who has delivered consistently.
However, their biggest challenge will be countering Afghanistan’s formidable spin trio. If they can navigate this obstacle successfully, New Zealand is well-positioned to secure their fourth consecutive victory in the tournament.
Afghanistan’s World Cup journey was far from impressive until they faced England. Two consecutive defeats against Bangladesh and India had raised concerns.
Nevertheless, their remarkable performance against the defending champions resulted in one of the most significant upsets in recent World Cup history. This win marked only the second World Cup victory for Afghanistan, with the first coming in 2015 against Scotland.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran formed a century partnership, setting the stage for a substantial total. However, Afghanistan’s middle order has struggled to provide consistent contributions. Players like Ikram Alikhil and Rahmat Shah need to step up and contribute more runs in this critical match.
Their renowned spin attack, which had a relatively quiet start, came into its own in the last match, claiming a total of 8 wickets. Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, with 3 wickets each, are expected to be the key bowlers. However, their pace department remains a weak link.
If the conditions in Chennai favor spinners, Afghanistan will enter this match with the belief that they can emerge victorious. This contest promises to be a thrilling encounter between New Zealand’s all-round excellence and Afghanistan’s spin prowess.
NZ vs AFG Probable XI
New Zealand: Devon Conway (wk), Will Young, Mark Chapman, Daryl-Mitchell, Tom Latham (wk & c), Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Trent Boult
Afghanistan: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad