New Zealand captain Kane Williamson’s 79 runs guided his side to a seven-wicket win in their World Cup clash against Afghanistan at the County Ground, Taunton, on Sunday. This was New Zealand’s third win in as many games as they retain their place at the top of the points table.
Williamson was the top scorer for New Zealand when they chased down the target of 173 runs quite comfortably after Jimmy Neesham’s career best 5/31 helped Kiwis restrict the Afghanistan batting to a paltry 172 at Taunton.
New Zealand’s three consecutive wins have kept them well in course of a place in the semi-final. On the other hand, Afghanistan have lost all their three matches in the tournament so far.
The Kane Williamson-led side, who defeated Sri Lanka and Bangladesh before this encounter, has now won 11 out of the last 12 World Cup matches – their only defeat coming against Australia in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 final.
However, it wasn’t a fairy tale beginning for New Zealand’s modest chase. They got off to the worst start possible when they lost opener Martin Guptill for a golden duck.
It is worth noting that Afghanistan were on the field without star spinner Rashid Khan who was hit on the head (helmet) by a Lockie Ferguson bouncer which dismissed him.
Khan was later ruled out for the rest of the match which meant Afghanistan couldn’t use his services to exert some kind of pressure on the opposition.
It was fitting, however, that Williamson scored the winning run as New Zealand finished the chase in 32.1 overs.
In the first innings Hashmatullah Shahidi (59) top scored for Afghanistan but against a quality New Zealand bowling unit, Afghanistan surrendered and were bundled out for an under par total of 172, which was always going to be difficult to defend with a Rashid Khan less attack.
New Zealand meet India next on 13 June while Afghanistan meet South Africa on 15 June in their World Cup campaigns ahead.
Brief Scorecard: Afghanistan 172/10 (Hashmatullah Shahidi 59; Hazrat Zazai 34; Jimmy Neesham 5/31; Lockie Ferguson 4/37)
New Zealand 173/3 (Kane Williamson 79*; Ross Taylor 48; Aftab Alam 3/45)