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Monday, February 26, 2024

New Zealand v Afghanistan: Cricket World Cup 2023 – live

New Zealand v Afghanistan: Cricket World Cup 2023 – live


Key events

I’m looking forward to seeing how Lockie Ferguson goes today. If he’s firing, he gives this side a different dimension and, as I type, Simon Doull says there might be enough pace in the track for NZ to go short. He also suggests that batting first is a decent option, and isn’t expecting much dew given the head of the day, which makes me wonder if Hashmatullah’s call to field was the right one; I thought he’d want to get in the match by setting a target, but I guess he trusts his bowlers to get their strangle on.

Which is to say that Afghanistan are unchanged, while New Zealand bring in Will Young for the injured Kane Williamson – who Latham hopes will be available later in the competition.

Teams!

Afghanistan: 1 Rahmanullah Gurbaz, 2 Ibrahim Zadran, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi (capt), 5 Azmatullah Omarzai, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Ikram Alikhil (wk), 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 10 Naveen-ul-Haq, 11 Fazalhaq Farooqi.

New Zealand: 1 Devon Conway, 2 Will Young, 3 Rachin Ravindra, 4 Tom Latham (capt, wk), 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Glenn Phillips, 7 Mark Chapman, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Mark Henry, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Trent Boult.

Tom Latham wasn’t sure what to do but intimates he’d have bowled too. However, he’s happy with the chance to set a target, wants his players to focus on themselves, and keep things simple.

Afghanistan win the toss and field!

Hashmatullah explains that the spin factor in the first dig and dew factor in the second motivated the tactic. But though they celebrated after beating England, that match is gone and now they need to win another.

It’s proper hot in Chennai today, so no risk of rain, and here comes the toss…

I mean obviously India are looking good, but it’s rare in any tournament to see the side that plays best in the group stages to go on and win it. I guess you’d back them to win home serieseseses against any of the sides in the competition, but once the semis get going – and really, I’m missing quarters – there’s no margin for error and lots of nails players able to alter the flow of a match.

Who’s going to win this competition, then? Adams, Adamly, Adamowlski, Adamson, Adler, Anderson…

Preamble

They couldn’t could they? Surely not … but they might!

On the face of things, Afghanistan’s undressing of England was up there with the biggest shocks in World Cup history, the holders defeated by a side from a war-torn land, playing in just their third such competition, operating on the tiniest of budgets.

The reality, though, is a little different. It’s true that England aren’t currently at it – both today’s teams know that – but it’s also the case that Afghanistan are a serious side, especially in subcontinental conditions. Rahmanullah Garbaz is an incendiary talent, while Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai are also dangerous; if one or more of them hit today, we’ll be in for a game.

Moreover, while it’s true that England were put under pressure by Afghanistan’s batters, it was their bowlers who seized the match, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan taking eight wickets between them for an average economy-rate of 3.89. These boys can play, and with Chennai likely to offer them more assistance than did Delhi, they’ll be a proper threat here.

The problem they have is that New Zealand, on a run of seven straight wins, are the least flaky sports team that ever was, the chances of them having their pants pulled down almost zero. We can safely say that, whatever happens, Ian Smith will not be reporting “the barest of arses” eight hours hence.

Which is to say that if Afghanistan are going to win, they’ll have to take that victory for themselves – and New Zealand are beatable. Without Kane Williamson, their batting looks a little light, and on a track likely to give us a relatively low-scoring game, his absence could be a problem, with their attack solid rather than deadly. If Afghanistan can up the pressure, whether by competitive target or early wickets, this will be close.

Play: 3pm local, 9.30am BST



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