31st match, Napier

New Zealand v Afghanistan

At Napier, March 8, 2015. New Zealand won by six wickets. Toss: Afghanistan.
Mohammad Nabi's decision to bat was greeted by audible sighs from the crowd. This was Napier's big day, and many feared that the combination of New Zealand's bowling and Afghanistan's batting would make it a short one. Prospects looked ominous when Boult snared Javed Ahmadi with the game's ninth ball, and Vettori - brought on for the third over to allow Boult and Southee to switch ends - bowled Usman Ghani with his first delivery.

Skilfully varying his pace and flight, Vettori went on to claim four for 18, as his next three victims - including his 300th in one-day internationals - injudiciously tried to force off the back foot. His figures were the most economical ten-over spell in the tournament. At 59 for six, Afghanistan were flirting with ignominy. But the adhesive Samiullah Shenwari and belligerent left-hander Najibullah Zadran, who hit two huge sixes off Southee, added 86, and their contrasting fifties helped the total to 186, more than Australia or England had mustered against the same opposition. Afghanistan's pace attack operated with characteristic zest, but it was never likely to prevail against New Zealand's powerful line-up on a glorious day. McCullum began in his usual bristling fashion and, though there were fewer pyrotechnics after he edged a pull off Nabi on to his stumps, Guptill and Williamson batted serenely. A straightforward six-wicket win arrived with nearly 14 overs in hand, and the crowd happy that the match had at least extended past six o'clock. TIM WIGMORE
Man of the Match: D. L. Vettori.

© John Wisden & Co