Afghanistan momentarily harbored aspirations of upsetting the 2019 runners-up as well, following their stunning victory over England on Sunday in the 2023 World Cup. But they were able to maintain their perfect record to make it four out of four in the competition, demonstrating once again the professionalism and experience that is unique to New Zealand.
New Zealand was put in to bat and inside nine balls went from a comfortable 109 for 1 in the 21st over to a less than comfortable 110 for 4. But captain Tom Latham and all-around handyman Glenn Phillips brought the batting back to life with a fifth-wicket stand of 144 runs. They also benefited from Afghanistan’s carelessness in the field, which allowed New Zealand to score 288 for 6 with up to six opportunities (five catches and one run out) to be wasted.
Following that, Mitchell Santner and Lockie Ferguson maintained their stellar form, taking three wickets apiece, as Afghanistan crumbled miserably in the chase. Before Afghanistan lost their final five wickets for just 14 runs in 24 balls and were bowled out for 139, losing by 149 runs in Chennai, only Rahmat Shah and Azmatullah Omarzai showed some resistance. In addition to providing a significant boost to New Zealand’s NRR, the victory cemented their top spot in the points table.
Afghanistan’s choice to bowl first on a steamy Wednesday afternoon caused some controversy, but their on-field efforts ultimately caused more harm than good. On just his fourth delivery of the day, Fazalhaq Farooqi found Will Young’s outside edge, but Rahmat at wide slip could not hold onto a normal catch to his left. Young went on to score 54 after starting at 1.
With Young having trouble early on, Devon Conway got things going with a couple spectacular fours. Young quickly proved he had what it took to loft Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman over long-on. However, the bowler quickly got even, even though it was against Conway, by capturing the batter in front of the stumps. Afghanistan won the decision that was referred upstairs after the on-field umpire ruled it not out.
when needing 13 balls to reach his first boundary, Rachin Ravindra was out for a life on 0 when Hashmatullah Shahidi mishandled a simple catch at midwicket. As he and Young put up a quick 79 runs for the second wicket, he made sure to punish Afghanistan.
Before Shahidi resorted to Omarzai, Afghanistan appeared to have no options, and the medium-fast bowler immediately delivered. A cross-batted swat by Ravindra resulted in his middle stump being crushed, and wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil’s magnificent one-handed catch of Young four balls later claimed his wicket. Young was only able to get a narrow inside edge when he pushed at a broad length ball outside off. Alikhil turned to his left and pulled off a one-handed stunner that was inches from the turf, demonstrating his impeccable anticipation. Rashid then removed Daryl Mitchell, turning New Zealand’s innings around in nine balls.