Afghanistan’s soaring spirits, following their recent victory over England, were brought down to earth by New Zealand, who delivered a comprehensive 149-run defeat at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.
Opting to bat first, New Zealand received significant contributions from skipper Tom Latham (68) and Glenn Phillips (71), resulting in a total of 288 for six. Despite the challenging conditions on a two-paced pitch with uneven bounce, Latham and Phillips orchestrated a crucial 144-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
In response, Afghanistan’s chase never found its footing. The Kiwi bowlers, Matt Henry and Trent Boult, swiftly removed openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran. Later, Lockie Ferguson (3/19) and Mitchell Santner (3/39) picked up wickets at regular intervals, dismantling Afghanistan for a mere 139.
While Afghanistan displayed moments of promise with the ball, their prospects were hampered by poor fielding, dropping four catches. Latham and Phillips adopted a sensible approach, thwarting Hashmatullah Shahidi’s men.
During New Zealand’s innings, Will Young (54) and Rachin Ravindra set a solid foundation with a 79-run partnership for the second wicket. Young, who had an early reprieve when dropped on one, aggressively approached the spinners. He utilised footwork against Mohammed Nabi, launching a couple of sixes and executing precise cuts against Rashid Khan to reach his second half-century of the tournament.
Medium-pacer Azmatullah Omarzai provided Afghanistan with a breakthrough by dismissing both Ravindra and Young in the 21st over. A remarkable catch by the wicketkeeper added to New Zealand’s woes when Young inside-edged the ball.
At 110 for four, with Daryl Mitchell’s dismissal, New Zealand was in a precarious position, losing three wickets in nine deliveries for only one run. However, Latham and Phillips navigated this challenging phase, demonstrating classic one-day cricket tactics by rotating the strike and patiently weathering the occasional maiden over.
The duo later exhibited their aggression, with Phillips hitting a series of sixes, propelling New Zealand to a formidable total of 288. Latham’s second life, after being dropped twice, allowed him to dominate the Afghan bowlers, adding two sixes and a four off Omarzai.
The match concluded with New Zealand securing a substantial victory, affirming their reputation as a formidable cricket force.