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New Zealand crash-landed the Afghanistan party after registering a convincing 149-run win over the England-vanquishers in the 16th game of the 2023 World Cup. In doing so, they made it four wins in a row to take the top spot on the points table.
Chasing 289 for a win, Afghanistan struggled against the Kiwi pace and fielding effort and were bowled out for a mere 139 in response.
This was after the New Zealand side had been aided by some shocking Afghanistan fielding that saw them drop five catches after skipper Hasmatullah Shahidi had won the toss and opted to field first.
Afghanistan’s chase was jolted in the sixth over when Rahmanullah Gurbaz, their hero from the previous game, saw his stumps pegged back off a Matt Henry in-dipper.
Ibrahim Zadran lobbed a dolly to Mitchell Santner off Trent Boult before the skipper Hasmatullah Shahidi was brilliantly caught by the same fielder with a Lockie Ferguson bouncer doing the trick.
A fourth wicket stand of 54 runs between Rahmat Shah and Azmatullah Omarzai brought some respectability to the contest but the required-rate had increased to nearly eight an over by this time.
They were left with no option but to try to up the ante but once Boult had broken through in the 26th over, the rest of the side fell away like nine pins.
Both Ferguson and Santner picked up three wickets apiece with Afghanistan losing their seven wickets for a mere 42 runs.
🎯 Afghanistan left target of 289
😔 Catching chances go down
🤝 Latham and Phillips rebuild
— ICC Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) October 18, 2023
Earlier, New Zealand could have been restricted to a lot lower score after having fallen to 110 for four at one stage.
But with the Afghanistan struggling to hold on to their catches and New Zealand playing some smart cricket against the quality of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, they managed to build a solid foundation for a late attack.
Stand-in captain Tom Latham and Glenn Phillips were involved in a 144-run stand for the fifth wicket after having begun slowly.
They ran brilliantly between the wickets and when the opportunity presented itself, were happy to pepper the fence. Towards the end of the innings, they found the boundary a lot more, hitting a total of six sixes between them.
A 12-ball 25 from Mark Chapman ensured New Zealand had scored 78 from the final six overs with both Rashid and Mujeeb having finished their quota of overs at that stage.
India take on Bangladesh in tomorrow’s World Cup game in Pune.
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