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Sunday, July 21, 2024

T20 World Cup: Afghanistan humble tournament contender New Zealand

Guyana: Afghanistan have made a statement in Guyana, putting ICC Men’s T20I World Cup heavyweights New Zealand to the sword.

The Kiwis were outplayed in all aspects, as the Afghans continue unearthing T20 stars that have the nation daring to dream in the Caribbean and USA.

New Zealand gave Afghanistan lifelines in the field, which they would be made to pay for dearly, and suffered an uncharacteristic collapse with the bat.

After winning the toss and sending Afghanistan in, it swiftly became clear New Zealand was having an off night in the field and the plan was about to backfire.

The Afghan openers took advantage of multiple fielding lifelines – a missed stumping and fumbled run out from keeper Devon Conway, along with a dropped catch in the outfield.

Afghanistan got to the midpoint of their innings at 55/0 before really starting to open up the shoulders. Rahmanullah Gurbaz reached 50 for the second time in this tournament, as his partners up the other end pushed the pace.

Ibrahim Zadran struck three boundaries on his way to a handy 44 off 41 balls, before Azmatullah Omarzai added a fast-twitched 22-run cameo from just 13 deliveries – his dismissal finally saw the Kiwis take a catch in the field, through Lockie Ferguson.

Ferguson then made a contribution with the ball, removing Mohammad Nabi first ball. A mix up saw Rashid Khan depart soon after, before Gurbaz’s knock came to a close at 80 off 56. The Afghan opener would be handed Player of the Match honours for his batting efforts.

Despite reaching 150 inside 19 overs, the Kiwis closed well, allowing just three runs in the final over. New Zealand was set 160 for the win.

But the side’s early efforts with the bat mirrored their shortcomings in the field. Fazalhaq Farooqi skittled Finn Allen first ball and the left-armer then had the scalps of Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell before the Kiwis were able to build any amount of momentum.

Farooqi took five wickets – for nine runs – against Uganda and picked up where he left off, nabbing figures of 17/4 off 3.2 overs, including the match-sealing dismissal.

Rashid Khan was also in on the act, collecting the prized scalp of Kane Williamson (9 off 13) with his first ball. He took two straight at the start of his next over, as Mitchell Santner had to deal with a hat-trick ball.

Khan took down Ferguson caught and bowled to finish with 17/4 off his four overs.

Glenn Phillips’ run-a-ball 18 was the Kiwis’ top contribution with the bat, as the side was all out for 75 runs off 15.2 overs.

It leaves Afghanistan atop Group C, two wins to start their campaign, and nearing a berth in the second round.

New Zealand, meantime, need to bounce back on June 12, taking on co-hosts the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago.

Courtesy: ICC


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