A battle between two sides which is a no match in the current scenario of the tournament. New Zealand is at the top of the table, whereas Afghanistan at the bottom. An easy win is expected from the Kiwis, and they will be one step closer to the seal the berth for the semi-final.
New Zealand has a pretty easy task so far in the World Cup. Their first three games scheduled against the bottom three teams in ICC Rankings. They should win this match just like the two previous ones. Their strength lies in their bowling and fielding, and when they click in batting, its a bonus for them. Their main aim should be winning it handsomely so when there is a fight for a semi-final berth based on run rate, and then they should not fall behind. So bat first score 350+ or bowl first and beat the opposition by 9 or more wickets at run a ball.
Afghanistan has more worries now. Their leading batsman and keeper Mohammad Shahzad have been ruled out of World Cup due to injury, Rashid Khan doesn’t seem to be in the right touch and overall they are not looking confident in the field. This is not a new thing for the fans watching cricket for a long time. The minnows generally succumb under pressure just like Afghanistan had against Sri Lanka in the last match. But they will learn from this and will want to prove to the world that they are not just the travellers in this tournament.
Taunton is known for high scoring games due to short boundaries, remember how Ganguly and Dravid smashed the Lankans here in 1999? A passing shower is expected as per the weather forecast.
Players to watch out
Matt Henry is the leading wicket-taker (7) in this tournament. He picked 3 in the first and 4 in the second match, so as per arithmetic progression a five-wicket haul is coming.
Mohammad Nabi is in good form. He picked four wickets against Sri Lanka (3 in one over) carrying his bowling form from IPL. Afghanistan would like to see him scoring as well. On his day, he can be the proper all-rounder you are looking for your team.
Afghanistan v New Zealand in ODIs
Overall: Matches 1, Afghanistan 0, New Zealand Won 1
World Cup: Matches 1, Afghanistan Won 0, New Zealand Won 1
Recent Form (most recent first): Afghanistan L L W L W, New Zealand W W W W W
ICC Rankings: Afganistan (10), New Zealand (4)
Hasmatullah Shahidi needs 113 more for 1000 Runs in ODIs, he will be the 9th Afghani player to reach the milestone.
Martin Guptill needs 93 more for 1000 Runs in World Cups, and he will become the second Kiwi batsman to reach the feat and fastest to reach 1000 runs in World Cup history along with Tendulkar and AB de Villiers (in 20 innings).
Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (capt), Aftab Alam, Asghar Afghan, Dawlat Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Rashid Khan, Samiullah Shinwari.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Tom Blundell (wk), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.
Cricket enthusiast, Tendulkar fan and a traveler !