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Rashid after Afghanistan's win: One of our greatest T20 performances

Williamson admits "it's very frustrating" to start the tournament with such a big loss

Vishal Dikshit
Vishal Dikshit
Afghanistan captain Rashid Khan has called their 84-run thrashing of New Zealand in the T20 World Cup 2024 as "one of the greatest performances" from them in T20 cricket. Afghanistan made their defence of 159 a very one-sided affair by bundling New Zealand out for just 75 with four-fors from Fazalhaq Farooqi and Rashid himself.
"It's one of the greatest performances from us especially in T20s against a big team, New Zealand," Rashid said at the presentation. "It is all great team effort. It's not just about the bowling. It's the batting, the way Ibrahim [Zadran] and [Rahmanullah] Gurbaz started. Again, the wicket wasn't easy to score on. But the way they played, they didn't throw away their wickets early on when they had a few dot balls from overs seven to nine. I think that was the time when they thought about taking it deep and overall it was a great effort, great win for Afghanistan and it's a great feeling to be leading this side and winning against New Zealand."
Afghanistan now top the Group C table after their second straight win, scripted by a second straight century opening partnership between Gurbaz and Ibrahim. New Zealand, meanwhile, are at the bottom with a net run rate of -4.200 after losing their tournament opener by a big margin. They now have a challenging path to qualify for the Super Eights because their next game is against co-hosts West Indies in Tarouba.
Rashid further said a score around 160-170 was going to be par on this surface because he had confidence in his bowling attack, even though Mujeeb Ur Rahman was out with a hand injury.
"It's something we have discussed before coming into the competition," he said. "Anything around 160-170 we score on this track, with the bowling unit we have, we will give tough time to the opposition. We knew there was support for the bowlers in the wicket. As long as we keep things simple and hit the right areas consistently, it was going to be more effective for us, and that's what happened. The spinners and especially the seamers, the way they started bowling and then Nabi bowling the second over - that gave us a very positive sign for the spinners that the ball is turning. Dew was there but still bowling tight, wicket to wicket, and the skills as a bowling unit we have, if we use our skills [to the potential], it's going to be very hard for the opposition to score 160."

Most frustrating part was fielding, says Williamson

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson also conceded they were "outplayed" in all facets of the game on a slow and tough Providence surface. Williamson also lamented several fielding lapses from New Zealand which allowed Afghanistan to accelerate after a cautious start.
They also have plenty of errors to rue about, especially the two catches they put down and a run-out and stumping chance they missed. Williamson also felt the Afghanistan batters "played beautifully" to get to a total of 159 on a "fiddly surface".
"The most frustrating part, I think, was the fielding in the first ten overs," he said. "It's difficult on a wicket like that when you are not putting it together in the field, to restrict opposition teams. We certainly had opportunities in that first half and we didn't take it.
"They simply outplayed us in all facets of the game," Williamson said of Afghanistan. "To get a total like that on a fiddly surface, they kept wickets in hand and played it beautifully. From our perspective, it wasn't good enough in terms of starting a tournament. It's very frustrating, but it's a quick turnaround for us now, we have to regroup quickly and move on to our next challenge."
New Zealand will now fly to Tarouba before their next game on June 11. If West Indies beat Uganda by then for their second win, New Zealand's qualification for the next stage will get even tougher.
"I think it is about taking a step in the right direction first," Williamson said of their next match. "Our performance was not good enough and we expected more from ourselves, and we know we are better than that. We know we've got another big challenge coming up, and the West Indies are playing fantastic cricket. For us it is about putting together a performance we can be proud of and gives us the best chance.
"It's the opportunities we had and we didn't take and on a surface like that, it goes a long way to changing the score and the outcome. We had a couple of overs to perhaps keep it something defendable but we needed to get a lot right in the second innings with what was on offer and they executed really well."

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo