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After early setback, Kiwis thrash resolute Afghans

In the absence of Kane Williamson, Young, who was drafted into the team on Wednesday, reached his half-century in 57 deliveries, displaying an array of strokes.

After early setback, Kiwis thrash resolute Afghans

Trent Boult and team celebrate after picking an Afghanistan wicket. 

CHENNAI: New Zealand came into the match watchful of Afghanistan’s bowling that took apart a formidable England team in their previous outing. Afghanistan, from the outset, made it challenging for New Zealand to establish themselves, employing spinners to maintain a stranglehold on the Kiwi batting order.

As New Zealand’s top order faltered, it was their captain and the lower order that orchestrated a spectacular comeback, steering New Zealand to its fourth consecutive victory at the ongoing ICC ODI World Cup.

To start with, Afghanistan’s bowlers wasted no time in testing New Zealand’s batsmen. In the early stages of the game, Will Young was handed a lifeline when he was dropped at just one run by Rahmat Shah, a missed opportunity that left Afghanistan ruing their luck.

After a slow start, Devon Conway appeared to be finding his rhythm with a series of boundaries, but Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s delivery from around the wicket deviated and struck Conway’s pads. Umpire Joel Wilson hesitated but eventually ruled not out. However, a review favoured Afghanistan, picking its first wicket of the day.

While Afghanistan’s bowlers were impressive, the fielding left much to be desired. Hashmatullah Shahidi put down a chance off Rachin Ravindra’s bat in the 9th over. Ravindra later made amends for this dropped catch by forming a solid 50-run partnership with Will Young, taking just about 50 deliveries to reach the mark.

In the absence of Kane Williamson, Young, who was drafted into the team on Wednesday, reached his half-century in 57 deliveries, displaying an array of strokes.

Meanwhile, Rachin Ravindra steadily constructed his innings, contributing to New Zealand’s total as they reached the 100-run mark in the 18th over, underscoring the depth in their team’s lineup.

Azmatullah Omarzai, introduced into the attack in the 21st over, worked wonders by dislodging Rachin’s stumps, bringing an end to the well-established second-wicket partnership of 79 runs. Shortly thereafter, he claimed the crucial wicket of Young, who had scored 54 runs, with Ikram Alikhil taking a blinder of a catch behind the stumps.

Daryl Mitchell, despite his heroic performance last Friday, couldn’t replicate his success as he was dismissed after spending just a few minutes at the crease, courtesy of Rashid Khan, who sent him back with just one run to his name. However, New Zealand’s hope wasn’t lost, as Captain Tom Latham and Glenn Phillips formed a crucial 50-run partnership in 77 balls, stabilizing their innings. From the start, Afghanistan’s fielding had been all over the place, with two dropped catches early on. Latham had twice the luck within two overs, thanks to Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s dramatic one-handed effort at third man in the 41st over and Hashmatullah’s dropping a easy catch in short cover.

Towards the end of the first innings, Afghanistan struggled, conceding cheap runs and dropping catches. In the latter part, it was New Zealand’s captain who rose to the occasion, helping them reach a total of 250 runs in 46 overs. Mark Chapman niggled a few shots guiding New Zealand to a solid total of 288 runs by the end of the first innings.

Afghanistan made a calculated start when they came out to bat, but Rahmanullah Gurbaz found Boult testing him right from the very start. Matt Henry eventually dismissed Gurbaz when the batsman failed to connect with the ball, resulting in an inside edge that scalped his stumps.

New Zealand displayed their agility both in terms of fielding and swift decision-making, exemplified by Mitchell Santner’s artistry in dismissing Hashmatullah Shahidi with a one-handed spectacular catch, giving Mujeeb Ur Rahman some much-needed lessons on how to pull off one. Santner continued to be instrumental with the ball in the later stages of the match, securing the dismissals of Naveen ul Haq and Fazal Farooqi, both without scoring a single run. As the day drew to a close, it was undeniably New Zealand who would retire contentedly into the night, having secured a comfortable victory by a marg

Jayantho Sengupta
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