New Zealand 125 for 2 (Williamson 40*, Conway 36*) beat Afghanistan 124 for 8 (Najibullah 73, Boult 3-17, Southee 2-24) by eight wickets
New Zealand were clinical. As they have now made the semi finals of four World Cups in a row (including ODI World Cups), this is perhaps not surprising.
Needing a win to ensure themselves a place in the final four, they produced what turned out to be a match-winning powerplay. Kane Williamson cycled his three quicks - Trent Boult
, Tim Southee
, and Adam Milne
- through the first six overs, giving them two apiece. They each claimed a wicket, and helped keep Afghanistan to less than four an over while the fielding restrictions were in operation.
Afghanistan recovered slightly, through a Najibullah Zadran
half-century, but apart from one 19-run over against Mitchell Santner, never really managed to find momentum after that awful start. They spluttered their way to 124 for 8, and were always going to struggle to defend it.
In response, New Zealand strode to 45 for 1 at the end of their powerplay, and then Kane Williamson
and Devon Conway
came together to stroll to the finish - their unbeaten 68-run stand taking up 56 balls, even as the side won with 11 balls to spare.
With this win they have not only ended Afghanistan's semi-final hopes, but also those of India, whom they had beaten earlier in the tournament.
New Zealand quicks scythe through Afghanistan's top order
Afghanistan banked on their attack when they chose to bat first, with mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman back in the lineup after recovering from injury. They needed a decent batting Powerplay, though, and could hardly have done any worse. Mohammad Shahzad was the first to go, trying to larrup an Adam Milne bouncer over third man, and managing only to send an edge through to wicketkeeper Conway (who did excellently to get a glove behind it, and complete the catch on the second rebound), in the third over. Trent Boult then had Hazratullah Zazai caught at short midwicket. Soon after, Tim Southee had Rahmanullah Gurbaz lbw. After six overs, Afghanistan were 23 for 3, and had struck just three boundaries - one of which was an unintentional top edge.
Afghanistan fizzle at the death
Despite the start, Afghanistan did recover slightly through the middle period, through a 37-run stand between Najibullah Zadran and Gulbadin Naib, then a 59-run partnership between Najibullah and Mohammad Nabi. But they could not fire at the death.
In the last six overs, Afghanistan managed just 37 runs, as they lost four wickets. Trent Boult picked up two dismissals in his final over to end with the game's best figures, of 3 for 17.
New Zealand ace the chase
It didn't need much chasing, really. At no point did New Zealand seem rushed. Mujeeb struck at the start of the fourth over, when a carrom ball that didn't really turn caught Daryl Mitchell's outside edge, but Afghanistan really needed a couple more wickets in the Powerplay if they were really going to challenge New Zealand.
Instead, Kane Williamson came out and played an ice-cool innings, almost never taking a risk, working the singles, striking only the occasional boundary, as he strolled to 40 not out off 42. Conway's stay was not quite as assured, but despite having nicked a ball early in his innings (Afghanistan barely appealed), made his way to 36 not out off 32.
The whole thing was drama-free.