Upbeat New Zealand focuses on Afghanistan after Australia stunner

Afghanistan lost a low-scoring game by five wickets to England in its first Super 12 match in Perth but its spinners, led by all-rounder Rashid Khan, proved a handful for Jos Buttler’s batsmen.
A buoyant New Zealand will look to keep its winning run going on Wednesday.
A buoyant New Zealand will look to keep its winning run going on Wednesday.

MELBOURNE: New Zealand has tried to move on from thrashing champion Australia in its World Cup opener but is keen to keep the good times rolling against Afghanistan, pace spearhead Trent Boult said on Tuesday.

The Black Caps can cement its place at the top of Group 1 in the Super 12’s with a big win over the Afghans in Melbourne on Wednesday after ending an 11-year victory drought away to Australia.

“It is hard, but we quickly got on a plane the next day and moved into a new hotel and started preparing for a new game,” Boult told reporters at the MCG.

“The boys spoke leading into this tournament, into that game, of what it means to be here and how exciting it is to be on this stage, and T20 cricket is about fun.

“It’s about showing your skills and going out there and having a good time.”

Afghanistan lost a low-scoring game by five wickets to England in its first Super 12 match in Perth but its spinners, led by all-rounder Rashid Khan, proved a handful for Jos Buttler’s batsmen.

“Their spinners in general, yeah, big players for their team,” said Boult. Obviously, Rashid, Mujeeb, none of them need an introduction.

“They’re very quality bowlers and as a batting unit I’m sure we’ve done our homework on how to best combat them.”

New Zealand may be reluctant to change a winning side but Boult suggested all-rounder Daryl Mitchell would be available for selection after recovering from a broken finger.

No complacency against Ireland, says Buttler

England captain Jos Buttler said they have “great respect” for Ireland and there is no question of complacency creeping in during Wednesday’s Super 12 match.

Ireland, which famously beat England in a 2011 ODI World Cup match in Bangalore, eliminated twice winner West Indies to make the second round for the first time since 2009.

England began its quest for a second T20 World Cup crown with a clinical victory against Afghanistan and Buttler said it would not hold anything back against Ireland.

“Anytime you take things for granted or you don’t respect the opposition is when you can get hurt,” the opener told a news conference on Tuesday.

“I think in T20 cricket especially, there’s the one format where it’s as level a playing field as any.

“We give them great respect. We expect a really tough game.” Buttler said there would be a “natural rivalry” on the pitch between the two sides.

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