New Zealand showcased their cricketing prowess yet again as they clinched a resounding 149-run victory against Afghanistan in a recent ODI World Cup encounter.
This victory extended New Zealand’s unbeaten streak in the tournament, solidifying their top position with four consecutive victories.
The challenge before Afghanistan was the task of chasing down a challenging target of 289 runs on a spin-friendly wicket at the Chepauk Stadium. However, they struggled to find their footing and managed only 139 runs in 34.4 overs.
The primary reason for their batting woes was the pace of Lockie Ferguson, who claimed 3 wickets for just 19 runs in his 7 overs, and Mitchell Santner, who took 3 wickets conceding 39 runs in 7.4 overs. Santner’s deliveries, which often turned extravagantly, kept the Afghan batsmen on the back foot.
New Zealand’s journey to a winning total of 288/6 in 50 overs was paved by the exceptional performances of Will Young (54), Tom Latham (68), and Glenn Phillips (71), each amassing half-centuries. Their contributions ensured that New Zealand set a modest target for their opponents.
While chasing the target, Afghanistan found themselves in a tough situation at 43 for 3 by the 14th over, with their skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (8) becoming the third wicket to fall.
Rahmat Shah (36) and Azmatullah Omarzai (27) then attempted to stabilise the chase with a 54-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Nevertheless, the New Zealand team already held the upper hand, and with the pitch offering significant turn, they bounded all attempts by the Afghan batsmen to score freely.
Prior to their batting display, New Zealand had a minor mid-innings slump, but their resilience ensured they posted a commendable total.
Devon Conway (20) was the first to depart for New Zealand in the seventh over, with spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman dismissing him leg-before. However, Will Young and the in-form Rachin Ravindra (32) steadied the ship, forging a substantial 79-run partnership for the second wicket. This late surge ensured that New Zealand surpassed the 275-run mark.
For Afghanistan, Omarzai and Naveen were standout performers with the ball, each claiming a couple of wickets, while Rashid Khan delivered an economical spell.
The match underscored New Zealand’s dominance in the tournament, with their solid batting performance and effective use of spin, exemplifying the well-rounded skills that make them a formidable force in the ODI World Cup.