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RESULT
14th Match, Group C (N), Providence, June 07, 2024, ICC Men's T20 World Cup
(15.2/20 ov, T:160) 75

Afghanistan won by 84 runs

Player Of The Match
80 (56)
rahmanullah-gurbaz
Cricinfo's MVP
139.14 ptsImpact List
rahmanullah-gurbaz
Preview

NZ face tough test against Afghanistan in spin-friendly Guyana

The battle for supremacy in Group C of the T20 World Cup heats up

Sreshth Shah
Sreshth Shah
07-Jun-2024

Match details

New Zealand vs Afghanistan
June 7, Providence, 7:30pm local

Big picture: NZ face a tricky start

Since 2015, no team has been more successful in making it to the knockout stages of a World Cup than New Zealand. They've made the semi-finals in each of the six white-ball events since - including three finals - and yet, the trophy cabinet is empty. But if they don't hit the ground running right away in a group that also includes co-hosts West Indies, their current campaign could very well end early.
They take the field for the first time on Friday and a challenge awaits them straightaway. Guyana has been the most spinner-friendly venue of T20 World Cup 2024 and Afghanistan are arguably the strongest spin-bowling outfit in the world. When you take into account New Zealand's less-than-ideal prep with no official warm-up games played, one wonders if they will turn up undercooked against a unit that has Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammad Nabi and potentially Noor Ahmad.
However, one of the reasons why New Zealand did not play a warm-up was because many of them were at the IPL, and those franchise regulars like Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner and Trent Boult could make a difference. They are also boosted by the return of Finn Allen and Devon Conway from injury, and their various right-left batting options gives them various batting strategies.
New Zealand have a few spin weapons of their own too. The West Indies is Santner's favourite place to bowl in, where he averages 16.83 with an economy of 5.50 in T20s. Across the last two T20 World Cups, no bowler has had a higher average release point (2.27m) than Santner. This uniqueness and his ability to vary his release speed and angle will keep all teams on their toes this World Cup.
The left-arm spin of Ravindra and the offspin of Phillips gives them flexibility, allowing them to field a strong side without Ish Sodhi in the XI. Factor in the swing of Boult, the pace of Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson, and a string of other seam options, and New Zealand are still very much a threat. For Afghanistan's batting, that remains the biggest challenge on Friday. They'll look at the settled opening pair of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran to put up a strong platform in pursuit of a second win in two games.

Form guide

New Zealand LWWLL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Afghanistan WWWLW

In the spotlight - Williamson, Conway and Farooqi

Kane Williamson and Devon Conway are two of New Zealand's top-three batters with next-to-zero game time recently. Conway missed the IPL with a finger injury that needed surgery while Williamson got only two games for Gujarat Titans. Neither have played a T20I game since January, but their experience is irreplaceable, especially if conditions are once again tricky for batting. Conway is proficient in scoring against all kinds of spin, however, Williamson could get bogged down by those who turn their stock ball away him, striking at only 106 since the T20 World Cup 2022.
Fazalhaq Farooqi showed against Uganda in Afghanistan's first game that it's not all about spinners in their team. In Providence, where this game will be played as well, he found significant deviation off the pitch and swung the ball nearly 2.5 degrees in the powerplay, more than twice that of the other bowlers. His 5 for 9 against Uganda was the fourth-best bowling figures in T20 World Cups, and Afghanistan will look for breakthroughs from him early so that the spinners could apply the squeeze sooner.

Team news: NZ assessing combinations

There are no injury concerns on either side. Afghanistan are likely to field the same XI while New Zealand will be considering their spin vs seam balance. Their resources are plenty: even if they keep out Mark Chapman, Michael Bracewell, Tim Southee and Sodhi, they still have eight bowling and eight batting options.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Devon Conway, 2 Finn Allen (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Daryl Mitchell, 5 Mark Chapman/Rachin Ravindra, 6 Glenn Phillips, 7 James Neesham, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Trent Boult, 10 Matt Henry, 11 Lockie Ferguson
Afghanistan (probable): 1 Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), 2 Ibrahim Zadran, 3 Najibullah Zadran, 4 Mohammad Nabi, 5 Gulbadin Naib, 6 Azmatullah Omarzai, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 Karim Janat, 9 Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman, 10 Naveen-ul-Haq, 11 Fazalhaq Farooqi.

Pitch and conditions: Spin and rain on the radar

The pitch in Guyana has been sluggish, making chasing the preferred way to go. Since 2022, teams chasing have won 19 of the 27 games and two of the three games in this World Cup. The average first-innings winning score is around 184, however, chances of a shortened game are high with some rain forecast through the evening in Providence.

Stats that matter

  • Spinners have an economy of 5.28 in Guyana at this World Cup and have taken 17 wickets, averaging 17.82 apiece. No other venue has seen more than seven wickets to spinners.
  • Boult has only three T20I wickets in 13 innings across 26 powerplay overs since 2022, averaging a surprising 67.33 in the phase.
  • In matches between Full Members since the last T20 World Cup, Afghanistan's spinners have the best average (19.45) and economy (6.72).

Quotes

"I think we saw in the 50-over World Cup we're able to compete with any side in the world. And that's our philosophy here. So, every game that we play, we expect to put ourselves in a winning position. Or fight to win every single game. So tomorrow that's no different."
Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott
"We've been predominantly training in the day and there are some large differences between day and night in terms of conditions. But from the couple of matches that have been played, it looks like a reasonable wicket, a good wicket, a fair wicket at the same time. Bit there for the bowlers but equally decent for the batters."
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

Language
English
Win Probability
AFG 100%
AFGNZ
100%50%100%AFG InningsNZ Innings

Over 16 • NZ 75/10

Matt Henry c Karim Janat b Fazalhaq Farooqi 12 (17b 0x4 1x6 21m) SR: 70.58
W
Afghanistan won by 84 runs
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ICC Men's T20 World Cup

Super Eights, Group 1
TEAMMWLPTNRR
IND33062.017
AFG3214-0.305
AUS3122-0.331
BAN3030-1.709
Super Eights, Group 2
TEAMMWLPTNRR
SA33060.599
ENG32141.992
WI31220.963
USA3030-3.906
Group A
TEAMMWLPTNRR
IND43071.137
USA42150.127
PAK42240.294
CAN4123-0.493
IRE4031-1.293
Group B
TEAMMWLPTNRR
AUS44082.791
ENG42153.611
SCOT42151.255
NAM4132-2.585
OMA4040-3.062
Group C
TEAMMWLPTNRR
WI44083.257
AFG43161.835
NZ42240.415
UGA4132-4.510
PNG4040-1.268
Group D
TEAMMWLPTNRR
SA44080.470
BAN43160.616
SL41230.863
NED4132-1.358
NEP4031-0.542