Afghanistan, flying high after the win over England, was brought down to the ground by a clinical performance from New Zealand which handed the former a 149-run defeat at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday.
Asked to bat first, half-centuries from skipper Tom Latham (68) and Glenn Phillips (71) helped the Black Caps post 288 for six. On a two-paced pitch, with the ball holding off the surface, Latham and Phillips combined well for a 144-run stand for the fifth wicket to bail their side out of a tricky situation and end up with an above-par score.
In reply, Afghanistan’s chase never found any rhythm with Matt Henry and Trent Boult removing the openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran respectively.
Later, Lockie Ferguson (3/19) and Mitchell Santner (3/39) chipped in with wickets at regular intervals to shoot out Afghanistan for just 139.
Afghanistan had its moments in the match with the ball to press ahead, but some poor fielding — they dropped four catches — and sensible approach from Latham and Phillips proved too good for Hashmatullah Shahidi’s men.
In the afternoon, Will Young (54) and Rachin Ravindra laid a solid platform for the Kiwis with a 79-run stand for the second wicket.
Young — dropped on one by Rahmat Shah at first slip off left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi — quickly went after the spinners, using his feet against Mohammed Nabi to hit a couple of sixes before cutting Rashid Khan behind point twice as he got to his second half-century of the tournament.
Then, medium-pacer Azmatullah Omarzai gave Afghanistan an opening with twin strikes in the 21st over. He first castled Ravindra, going for a slog before Young inside-edged to the ’keeper who took a brilliant catch diving to his left.
When Daryl Mitchell pulled Rashid straight to short midwicket, New Zealand was in trouble at 110 for four, losing three wickets in nine deliveries for just one run.
Then Latham and Phillips played some old-fashioned one-day cricket, patiently rotating the strike through the middle-phase of the innings and even to play out the odd maiden.
The first sign of aggression came when Phillips swept Nabi over midwicket for a six before he guided Rashid down the fine-leg fence. He then launched into left-arm pacer Farooqi with two consecutive sixes, one over midwicket and the other over square-leg, to step on the accelerator.
After his half-century, Latham — who was dropped twice on 35 and 38 off Rashid — went after Omarzai, smashing the pacer for two sixes and a four in one over. New Zealand scored 103 runs in the last 10 overs to end up with a total which proved more than enough.