Dubai: Afghanistan team will be aiming to extend their giant-killing act as they take on 2019 finalists New Zealand in their next clash in Chennai on Wednesday.
The World Cup minnows have not been performing at their best in the World Cups. However, the underachievers suddenly found a glimmer of hope against England and rode on the crest of a wave to shock the defending champions in New Delhi on Sunday. The 69-run victory will be regarded as one of the biggest shocks in the history of the tournament as Afghanistan ended a 14-match World Cup losing streak.
After defeating the champions, the next game against last edition’s runners-up New Zealand could not have come at a better venue than in Chepauk, where the Afghanistan spinners must be licking their lips in anticipation to halt the Black Caps’ winning run.
Afghanistan have some skilled, world-class spinners who can trouble the best on wickets that offer even a bit of assistance. However, the Chennai pitch is known for its spin-friendly nature and in the previous contest between India and Australia, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin spun a web around the five-time champions to dismiss them for 199.
Afghanistan too have a rich and varied attack led by Rashid Khan and the mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rehman with veteran Mohammad Nabi providing the variety with his off-spinners. The pacers have been steady, bowling a stump-to-stump line.
Much-needed confidence boost
While the bowling was always a strong point for Afghanistan, the batters were letting the team down. However, the impressive show against England after scoring 284 will give the Afghan batters the much-needed confidence in their next game against New Zealand.
The Black Caps are a different beast to England. They have a good depth of spinners, led by Mitchell Santner. It remains to be seen if Ish Sodhi will get a chance in Chennai. Still, the Afghan batters, especially the openers, need to negotiate the wily Trent Boult, who has a habit of breaking partnerships early in the innings.
The New Zealand openers Rachin Ravindra and Devon Conway have been scoring plenty of runs but the absence of skipper Kane Williamson could be a big disadvantage to New Zealand on a tricky surface. Still Daryl Mitchell could lend the stability in the middle order.
In all, it will be Afghanistan spinners against the New Zealand batters in Chennai.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Rahmanullah Gurbaz has been handed an official reprimand for breaching Level 1 of the ICC Code of Conduct during their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup league match against England in Delhi on Sunday.
Gurbaz was found to have breached Article 2.2 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Player Support Personnel, which relates to “abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings during an International Match.”
In addition to this, one demerit point has been added to Gurbaz’s disciplinary record, for whom it was the first offence in a 24-month period.
The incident occurred in the 19th over of Afghanistan’s innings, when after his dismissal, Gurbaz slammed his bat on the boundary rope and a chair.