About the Match
New Zealand’s attempt to win the World Cup for the first time could hardly have stated better. The odds seemed against them when they were drawn to play the defending champions and pre-tournament favourites, Australia, in the opening match of the tournament.
But, if there were any nerves, it hardly showed as they made 200/3 after being put into bat, Devon Conway, the Player of the Match, starring with the bat making an unbeaten 92.
And then they bowled out the home side for just 111, with both Tim Southee and Mitchell Santner taking three wickets.
Not only did they win by 89 runs, but they now have a healthy Net Run Rate which could be important later in the competition.
Afghanistan, by contrast, began with a loss to England in Perth.
Put into bat, they initially did well, and, at one stage were 82/3. However, their innings fell away badly against some tight bowling and aggressive fielding for whom Sam Curran took 5 – 10, and they were all out for just 112 with two balls yet to be bowled.
Mark Wood’s spell of pace bowling was the fastest ever recorded in a World Cup.
That was never likely to be enough to defeat England in a T20I international and the fact that several relatively easy chances were dropped which made things even harder for them. Their spin bowlers did have some joy, taking five wickets in all, but the task was beyond them.
England had won by five wickets.
New Zealand (Form)
Prior to the match with Australia, New Zealand’s form could be described as variable at best, and they had lost a World Cup warm-up match against South Africa heavily, beaten by 9 wickets, on a day when their batting had not stood up so well to the test,
Prior to that they had been on the wrong end of a series whitewash by the West Indies in the Caribbean, and, although they beat Bangladesh were beaten twice in a tri-nation series by the other team in it, Pakistan.
The Afghans too have enjoyed mixed form recently. They beat Zimbabwe but lost an away series in Ireland (a team they will play in this group on October 28th, by the odd match in five.
They began their Asia Cup campaign well and won their group, only for that form to desert them in the Super Four stage of the competition, and they did not win another game. They did beat Bangladesh in a warm-up match, but a second against Pakistan was lost to the weather.
And then there came that defeat to England.
One lesson they will have learned from that is the importance of holding on to catches. They will also know that their batters have to cope better with the pressure in the death overs.
New Zealand vs Afghanistan Head to Head
The two teams have only met in T20 cricket once before, and that was in the World Cup last year, at the same stage of the competition. On that occasion, having won the toss in Abu Dhabi and deciding to bat first, Afghanistan made 124/8 from their allotted overs, a total that New Zealand chased down with 11 balls and 8 wickets in hand.
New Zealand vs Afghanistan Betting Odds
New Zealand won the only previous match between these two teams and they will start the clear favourites to do so again. Even if the rain has made the pitches in Australia softer and slower than would normally be expected, they should still suit the Kiwi quick bowlers more than the Afghan spinners.
As for their batting, they have won of the form players in T20I cricket right now in the shape of Devon Conway, and they will be hoping for another good contribution for him. They have every incentive to do well, as another win will cement their place at the top of the group, and boost their chances of making the knock-out stages.
Afghanistan should not be discounted completely, however, although both their fielding and batting need to be improved. They can be dangerous opponents on their day, and, if they can find a pitch that offers some help to their spin bowlers, they could yet produce an upset.