After surviving a late scare in their second 2019 World Cup fixture against Bangladesh, New Zealand bounced back strongly against Afghanistan to secure a third straight win. Here’s Richard Whitehead’s report from the 2020 Wisden Almanack.
Afghanistan v New Zealand
Match 13, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton
June 8, 2019
New Zealand ensured they extracted the maximum benefit from their soft launch to the tournament with a third successive victory. After the harum-scarum conclusion to their win over Bangladesh, this was a return to traditional values: calm, calculated and completed with the minimum of fuss.
For Afghanistan, who suffered a third straight defeat, there were few positives. Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad had been sent home with a knee injury; he later claimed the first he heard of it was in an ICC press release (and that he was fit). Their batting was brittle, and a groggy Rashid Khan did not bowl after ducking into one from Ferguson that ricocheted via helmet on to stumps.
For ten gloriously entertaining overs, it had been a different story, as openers Hazratullah Zazai and Noor Ali Zadran – apparently channelling Taunton’s big-hitting heritage – charged to 61. “Relax, buddy!” shouted one anxious supporter in a large Afghan contingent as another lofted shot landed between fielders. It seemed too good to last, and so it proved: 66 without loss became 70 for four. Neesham, whose two overs against Bangladesh had cost 24, was the chief beneficiary, collecting a maiden ODI five-for. There were also four for the fiery Ferguson. Hashmatullah Shahidi was last out for a more measured 59.
Aftab Alam surprised Guptill with bounce from the first ball of the reply, but Williamson made sure New Zealand progressed at their own, largely untroubled, pace.
First published in the 2020 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack