In the second match of the exciting double-header Saturday, Kiwis continued their winning momentum in this World Cup 2019 extravaganza with a convincing 7-wicket victory over Afghanistan at The Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton. New Zealand pace bowling duo of James Neesham and Lockie Ferguson delivered sensational performance with the ball to rattle the Afghanistan line-up. Neesham picked up his maiden five-fer, while Ferguson took four crucial wickets. In the second innings, Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson led from the front and played a fine unbeaten inning to take his team towards a splendid win. With this victory, New Zealand have now climbed towards the top spot on the points table.
Neesham’s maiden five-wicket haul wraps up Afghanistan for 172
After losing the toss and being asked to bat first, the two Afghanistan openers, Hazratullah Zazai and Noor Ali Zadran got their team off to a great start at the top. The opening duo stitched an excellent stand of 66 runs, however, after that partnership broke down, then started a flurry of wickets. The Kiwi pace bowling duo of Lockie Ferguson and James Neesham delivered devastating spells to trigger an Afghan batting collapse. From a strong position at 65 for no loss, Afghanistan suddenly crumbled to 70 for 4 in a space of just three overs.
After that collapse, the opposition never really got going as the majority of the batsmen kept throwing their wickets away by playing some poor shots and eventually got bowled out for 172 runs in 41.1 overs. Hashmatullah Shahidi was the top-scorer for Afghanistan as he played a vital inning of 59 runs that included of nine boundaries. For New Zealand, Neesham picked up his maiden five-wicket haul and Ferguson finished with four crucial scalps.
Williamson stands tall to take the Kiwis home
Chasing a mere target of 173 runs, Kiwis dealt with a huge blow quite early as their opener Martin Guptill got dismissed out on the very first ball of the innings. The other opening batsman, Colin Munro, also got dismissed pretty soon as he failed to convert his start of 22 runs into a bigger score. After the dismissal of the two openers, the pair of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor combined together to take the Kiwi’s progress further in this run-chase.
The duo of Williamson and Taylor batted very nicely and showed great composure to keep the Afghan bowlers at bay during the fabulous partnership of 89 runs. Taylor failed to get to his half-century after Aftab Alam bowled a beautiful delivery to shatter his stumps. But Williamson never lost his focus and played a sensational knock of 79 runs and remained unbeaten till the end to guide his team towards a comfortable win more than 17 overs to spare.
Afghanistan: 172/10 in 41.1 overs (Hashmatullah Shahidi-59; James Neesham 5/31, Lockie Ferguson 4/37)
New Zealand: 173/3 in 32.1 overs (Kane Williamson-79, Ross Taylor-48; Aftab Alam 3/45)
Result: New Zealand won the match by 7 wickets.