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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Daniel Harris (earlier) and Rob Smyth (later)

New Zealand thrash Afghanistan by 149 runs at Cricket World Cup – as it happened

 Rachin Ravindra of New Zealand celebrates the wicket of Rahmat Shah.
Rachin Ravindra of New Zealand celebrates the wicket of Rahmat Shah. Photograph: Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC/Getty Images

Match report

That’s all for today. We’ll be back in the morning for India v Bangladesh – see you then.

As does the New Zealand captain Tom Latham

It was another great performance today. We were put under pressure at times when we batted but the way we were able to overcome that and put the pressure back on them in the last 10 overs was outstanding. The bowlers set the tone with the new ball and we managed to keep taking wickets.

[On his partnership with Glenn Phillips] We spoke about regrouping and trying to build a partnership. They bowled fantastically well but we managed to take it deep. When you have wickets in hand you can put the foot down towards the end.

It’s pleasing all round. We’re playing some good cricket and sticking to the way we want to play. There’s another great challenge coming up with India and Australia. Hopefully our momentum can continue.

The Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi speaks

I’m really disappointed. At this level you have to take those kinds of catches. At the end of the day, Saint, those catches hurt us. Because of that we feel a little bit down.

[On the decision to bowl first] You can’t judge the pitch 100 per cent. In the first innings the ball was spinning slowly as well. We bowled well but the fielding was a concern.

We still have more games to come. The next one is Pakistan. We’ll try to improve and come back stronger in that game.

That was a bad day/night for Afghanistan. They made the wrong decision at the toss, dropped too many catches and never looked like they believed they could chase 289.


“Good afternoon Rob,” writes Krishnamoorthy. “Why am I reminded of the ‘won all the group matches only to lose the semi-final’ of 1992 NZ?”

Because they keep winning? The pedant in me feels compelled to point out they lost their last group games in 1992, though they had qualified by that point.

The player of the match is Glenn Phillips, whose punishing 71 got New Zealand out of a hole in the first innings.

Afghanistan’s spinners are incredibly talented, so the way me and Tommy went about it was really pleasing. Our top order have done well in the last couple of games, so to have ourselves tested in the middle was really good.

The pitch is a bit dusty here in Chennai. We understood what we might be able to get in the last 10 overs [against the fast bowlers], which allowed us to take a little bit longer to combat [the spinners]. We thought maybe 250 would be a par total. To get more than that was very pleasing.


Wicket! Afghanistan 139 all out (Fazalhaq c Mitchell b Santner 0)

That’ll do. Fazalhaq edges his second ball to slip to complete a crushing win for New Zealand, who go top of the table with four wins out of four. Next up: India.


WICKET! Afghanistan 139-9 (Naveenulhaq c Chapman b Santner 0)

When Afghanistan are good, they’re very, very good…

Naveenulhaq goes first ball, spooning a reverse sweep straight to short third, and New Zealand are one wicket away from a huge victory.

New Zealand's Mark Chapman takes a catch to dismiss Afghanistan's Naveen-ul-Haq.
New Zealand's Mark Chapman takes a catch to dismiss Afghanistan's Naveen-ul-Haq. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP


34th over: Afghanistan 138-8 (Alikhil 18, Naveenulhaq 0) Lockie Ferguson is having a terrific day: 7-1-19-3.

WICKET! Afghanistah 138-8 (Mujeeb c b Ferguson 4)

Mujeeb Ur Rahman is bounced out by Lockie Ferguson. He belted his first ball for four but hooked the third high towards fine leg, where Will Young did the needful.

WICKET! Afghanistan 134-7 (Rashid c Mitchell b Ferguson 8)

Six and out. Rashid Khan is suckered by a rare full ball from Lockie Ferguson. He blasted it miles in the air towards cover, where Daryl Mitchell took a comfortable catch.

33rd over: Afghanistan 134-6 (Alikhil 18, Rashid 8) Rashid Khan charges Santner and wallops the ball into the sightscreen. He loves hitting sixes: that’s his 45th in ODIs, which accounts for over 20 per cent of all his runs.

32nd over: Afghanistan 126-6 (Alikhil 17, Rashid 1) Ferguson is trying to rough Rashid Khan up with a bit of short stuff. He goes round the wicket mid-over and nails a nasty lifter that Rashid defends uncomfortably.

Every New Zealand top-order batter is averaging at least 30 in this World Cup; the four frontline bowlers are all averaging under 30. They are in a pretty good place right now, even if greater tests lie ahead.

31st over: Afghanistan 126-6 (Alikhil 17, Rashid 1) Santner is the 46th spinner to take 100 ODI wickets. If you can name the other 45 off the top of your head, you need shakubuku.

WICKET! Afghanistan 125-6 (Nabi b Santner 7)

Mitchell Santner’s 100th ODI wicket is a thing of beauty. It curved into Nabi from round the wicket before straightening dramatically to beat his defensive push and hit off and middle. Just brilliant.

Mohammad Nabi of Afghanistan is bowled by Mitch Santner of New Zealand.
Mohammad Nabi of Afghanistan is bowled by Mitch Santner of New Zealand. Photograph: Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC/Getty Images


30th over: Afghanistan 121-5 (Alikhil 17, Nabi 3) Lockie Ferguson replaces Boult. A hot hot short ball is steered past Latham for four by Alikhil. It was closer to Latham than intended, mind you. But at least he is showing some intent. Afghanistan need 168 from 120 balls.

“I find the attitude of Afghanistan hard to fathom,” says Gary Naylor. “The bowling is good, but it’s not Roberts, Holding, Garner, Croft and Harper, so why such timidity? Off the back of the win against England, such reluctance to take the game to NZ seems contrary and, for their fans, the tournament and the game, terribly disappointing.”

I guess once they lost the openers, who are such key players, they just wanted to take it deep and hope for a miracle. The thing I can’t fathom, and I really should have mentioned this earlier, is the decision to bowl first.

29th over: Afghanistan 114-5 (Alikhil 11, Nabi 2) Alikhil sweeps Ravindra nicely for four and then belts a single down the ground. It’s surprising that he was out of the team for four years because he looks a pretty good player.

WICKET! Afghanistan 107-5 (Rahmat ct and b Ravindra 36)

Ravindra appeals for a return catch when Rahmat squeezes the ball back to him. It’s impossible to tell whether it was a bump ball or not, so the umpires go upstairs. Richard Illingworth has a few looks and then decides, rightly I think, that it bounced a fraction before it hit the bat, so Rahmat Shah goes for a well-intentioned 36 from 62 balls.

Rachin Ravindra of New Zealand celebrates the wicket of Rahmat Shah.
Rachin Ravindra of New Zealand celebrates the wicket of Rahmat Shah. Photograph: Alex Davidson-ICC/ICC/Getty Images


28th over: Afghanistan 107-4 (Rahmat 36, Alikhil 6) Alikhil chases an outswinger from Boult and is beaten. Boult made a slowish start to the tournament against England but he looks close to his best now. His figures today are 7-1-18-2.

27th over: Afghanistan 106-4 (Rahmat 35, Alikhil 6) Alikhil’s first boundary is a pristine extra-cover drive off Ravindra, who would have been proud to play that shot himself. He looks confident after an excellent innings against England on Sunday.

26th over: Afghanistan 99-4 (Rahmat 32, Alikhil 2) Ikram Alikhil is the new batter, and he gets off the mark with a pleasant off drive for two.

WICKET! Afghanistan 97-4 (Azmatullah c Latham b Boult 27)

The New Zealand captain Tom Latham has had enough of this nonsense. He whistles up Trent Boult, who needs just four balls to break the partnership. Azmatullah tries to pull a short ball from round the wicket and top-edges it through to Latham; he goes for 27 from 32 balls. It was good bowling from Boult, who cramped Azmatullah for room.

New Zealand's Trent Boult celebrates the dismissal of Afghanistan's Azmatullah Omarzai.
New Zealand's Trent Boult celebrates the dismissal of Afghanistan's Azmatullah Omarzai. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP


25th over: Afghanistan 94-3 (Rahmat 29, Azmatullah 27) A rare boundary, Azmatullah’s first in fact. It was a nice shot, a flashing back cut off Ravindra.

The response from Ravindra is excellent, a slower delivery that grips and turns past the edge, mbut Azmatullah gets four more with a big edge to third man. That brings up the fifty patnership from 68 balls. But at the halfway mark, Afghanistan are less than a third of the way there. There’s no Bon Jovi song for that.

24th over: Afghanistan 82-3 (Rahmat 28, Azmatullah 16) There’s definitely more aggression from Afghanistan now. They only pick up three from Phillips’ over, but the intent and especially footwork were good. Trouble is they already need nearly eight an over.

23rd over: Afghanistan 79-3 (Rahmat 27, Azmatullah 14) Azmatullah has a lusty swipe at Ravindra and is relieved to see the resulting top edge go wide of short third man. It looks like they’ve decided to go after the change bowlers, because later in the over Rahmat dances down the track to chip over the off side for a single.

22nd over: Afghanistan 75-3 (Rahmat 26, Azmatullah 10)

21st over: Afghanistan 71-3 (Rahmat 25, Azmatullah 8) A double bowling change: Rachin Ravindra is on for Mitchell Santner. Another quiet over, three from it. This, it gives me no pleasure to say, is not much of an advert for 50-over cricket.

20th over: Afghanistan 68-3 (Rahmat 24, Azmatullah 6) The occasional offspinner Glenn Phillips comes into the attack. He took two cheap wickets in the win over England and another against Bangladesh.

Phillips’ first over is milked for seven runs. One ball turned quite sharply off the straight, though, a bit more salt in Afghanistan’s self-inflicted wound. Mujeeb, Rashid and Nabi would have been a handful bowling second.

19th over: Afghanistan 61-3 (Rahmat 19, Azmatullah 4) Santner rags another teasing delivery past Azmatullah’s outside edge. Another quiet over; two from it. Afghanistan have scored 34 from the last 13.

18th over: Afghanistan 59-3 (Rahmat 22, Azmatullah 3) Three runs off Ferguson, who has impressive figures of 4-0-8-1. I don’t know what else to tell you. There have been a lot of dispiritingly one-sided matches in this tournament, and right now we’re witnessing another. Afghanistan need 230 from 32 overs.


17th over: Afghanistan 56-3 (Rahmat 18, Azmatullah 2) Santner drops short and is pumped to cow corner for four by Rahmat. That’s his first boundary and only the second since the sixth over. Time for drinks.

16th over: Afghanistan 50-3 (Rahmat 13, Azmatullah 1) Rahmat brings up the Afghanistan fifty by driving Ferguson for two. But only 23 of those have come in the last 10 overs, and this game already feels like a done deal. Only 34 more overs of I-dotting and T-crossing to come.

15th over: Afghanistan 48-3 (Rahmat 11, Azmatullah 1) A couple of slower deliveries from Santner turn sharply away from Rahmat. Why the flip didn’t Afghanistan bat first?

This is the 16th game of the World Cup and we’re still waiting for the first last-over thriller. It’s unlikely to happen today.

14th over: Afghanistan 43-3 (Rahmat 7, Azmatullah 0) That was the last ball of the over, and a catch you should seek out at your earliest convenience.


WICKET! Afghanistan 43-3 (Hashmatullah c Santner b Ferguson 8)

Mitchell Santner takes one of the catches of the tournament! Hashmatullah was hurried by a short ball from Ferguson and slugged a pull that looped towards square leg. Santner ran back from midwicket, leapt forward and stuck out a gogo Gadget telescopic arm to take a spectacular catch.

What a catch: New Zealand's Mitch Santner takes a catch to dismiss Afghanistan's captain Hashimatullah Shahidi.
What a catch: New Zealand's Mitch Santner takes a catch to dismiss Afghanistan's captain Hashimatullah Shahidi. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP


13th over: Afghanistan 42-2 (Rahmat 6, Hashmatullah 8) This is the 16th game of the World Cup, and we’re still waiting for a last-over thriller. I’m not sure it’s going to happen today. Hashmatullah is beaten by a delicious piece of flight from Santner, whose next delivery is 8mph quicker. His variation is consistently impressive.

12th over: Afghanistan 39-2 (Rahmat 4, Hashmatullah 7) It’s time for the pace of Lockie Ferguson, who looks fetching with his black shirt, black pants and black trainers. In 2023, the true mavericks wear black shoes.

Nothing much to say about his first over: two singles, no false strokes, four minutes of cricket that nobody will remember.

11th over: Afghanistan 37-2 (Rahmat 3, Hashmatullah 6) With the Powerplay over, the crafty Mitchell Santner comes into the attack. He’s on 99 ODI wickets; I think Daniel Vettori is the only New Zealand spinner with at least 100.

After 19 dot balls in a row, Rahmat cuts Santner for two. Later in the over, Hashmatullah dances down to thump Santner over mid-off for four. That’s a good shot, and much needed.

New Zealand's Glenn Phillips dives to field the ball.
New Zealand's Glenn Phillips dives to field the ball. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP


10th over: Afghanistan 28-2 (Rahmat 0, Hashmatullah 1) Matt Henry’s modest Test record – 72 wickets at 37 – is one of the mysteries of the modern world, because he has most of the tools. His control of line and length is outstanding, as he demonstrates by beating Hashmatullah with consecutive deliveries.

Afghanistan’s batters are in quicksand, and Henry finishes the over strongly to make it three maidens in a row.

9th over: Afghanistan 28-2 (Rahmat 0, Hashmatullah 1) If they win this game – spoiler alert - New Zealand will go top of the table with four wins from four. It gets tougher from here (the next four games are against India, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan) so they aren’t a shoo-in for the semi-finals yet. But they have started the tournament with authority and most of their key players look in excellent touch.

Boult, who might be the most important player of all, hits Rahmat Shah on the helmet with an excellent bumper. The ball looped teasingly over Boult, who went for the catch just in case there was a glove or top-edge onto the helmet. Replays show there wasn’t.

Boult makes it back-to-back maidens. In fact, in the last 20 balls New Zealand have taken two wickets and conceded only one run.

8th over: Afghanistan 28-2 (Rahmat 0, Hashmatullah 1) Henry tests the left-handed Hashmatullah with a series of perfectly pitched deliveries from over the wicket. It’s a high-class maiden, with three of the six balls beating the bat.

7th over: Afghanistan 28-2 (Rahmat 0, Hashmatullah 1) The captain Hashmatullah Shahidi is the new batter, with just one question to answer: why the bloody blazes did you bowl first?

WICKET! Afghanistan 27-2 (Zadran c Santner b Boult 14)

Big trouble for Afghanistan. The two openers, their two best batters, have fallen in the space of three balls. Zadran tried to work a length ball to leg and got a leading edge that looped gently towards Santner in the covers.

Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz is clean bowled by New Zealand's Matt Henry.
Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz is clean bowled by New Zealand's Matt Henry. Photograph: R Satish Babu/AFP/Getty Images
New Zealand’s Trent Boult celebrates after dismissing Afghanistan’s Ibrahim Zadran.
New Zealand’s Trent Boult celebrates after dismissing Afghanistan’s Ibrahim Zadran. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP


6th over: Afghanistan 27-1 (Zadran 14, Rahmat 0) Rahmat Shah is the new batter. That was such a good delivery from Henry: the sharp seam movement would have been irrelevant had he got the length wrong, but it was immaculate. He is now the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with nine.

WICKET! Afghanistan 27-1 (Gurbaz b Henry 10)

Gurbaz, trying to cut a ball that is far too close for the shot, gloves Henry short of slip. Maybe Gurbaz, who has 4 from 18 balls now, is struggling with afterthelordmayorsshowitis.

Or maybe not. The next ball is in the slot and driven stunningly back over Henry’s head for an 85-metre six. I say!

I can say all I like but it’s Henry who has the final word, bowling Gurbaz with a storming delivery. It moved a long way off the seam to take the inside edge and demolish the stumps. Henry growls with delight; that’s a big wicket.

New Zealand's Matt Henry (R) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz.
New Zealand's Matt Henry (R) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz. Photograph: R Satish Babu/AFP/Getty Images


5th over: Afghanistan 19-0 (Gurbaz 4, Zadran 13) A stroke of luck for Zadran, who inside-edges a Boult inswinger past leg stump for four. It’s Zadran who is the pacemaker today: he has 13 from as many balls, Gurbaz 4 from 17.

4th over: Afghanistan 13-0 (Gurbaz 4, Zadran 7) Zadran slaps Henry up and over backward point for the first boundary of the innings. Henry tightens his line thereafter; the result is one run from the last four balls of the over.

3rd over: Afghanistan 8-0 (Gurbaz 4, Zadran 2) Boult beats Gurbaz with a bit of extra bounce. This is fast becoming a forensic new-ball examination of the Afghan openers, the kind England couldn’t manage on Sunday.

Zadran whips around another inswinger and is hit on the pad, leading to another LBW, though this time everyone knew deep down it was missing leg. Gurbaz plays and misses at the final delivery of an excellent over.

2nd over: Afghanistan 6-0 (Gurbaz 3, Zadran 1) Matt Henry - who would surely make an underrated ODI World XI along with Dawid Malan, Imam-ul-Haq and eight others – shares the new ball.

He almost strikes with his second ball when Ibrahim Zadran survives a huge LBW appeal. That looked really close, but New Zealand can’t risk a review because they spaffed one in the last over. Both Latham and Henry signal that it was legsideish; we’ve not seen a replay yet.

1st over: Afghanistan 3-0 (Gurbaz 1, Zadran 0) Gurbaz squirts the last ball to third man for a single.

Gurbaz is not out! It pitched miles outside leg. That’s a wretched review.

NZ review for LBW against Gurbaz!

0.5 overs: Afghanistan 2-0 (Gurbaz 0, Zadran 0) Boult’s first ball is a perfect inswinger, the kind that would have cleaned up many a Bairstow so early in the innings, but Gurbaz defends solidly enough to midwicket.

Boult is such a menacing new-ball bowler, particularly to right-handers, and he’s getting enough swing here – at least when he pitches it where intended. A mixed opening over includes two wides, one on each side, and a big LBW appeal when Gurbaz plays around a straight one. I think it pitched outside leg. Boult isn’t sure but Tom Latham decides to have a look.


Here come the players. Trent Boult has a new white ball in his hand; Rahmanullah Gurbaz is on strike.


Thanks Daniel, hello everyone. I fancied Afghanistan’s chances at this stage on Sunday, but this feels too big an ask – unless they know something we don’t, which isn’t impossible given they chose to field first. Another big opening partnership is probably essential.


Otherwise, my watch is over, so here’s the great Rob Smyth to snuggle you through the second dig. Bear in mind, the last time I shared that sentiment was this time Sunday…


That was a lot of fun. Afghanistan started well, NZ did well to rebuild, Afghanistan came back … then NZ took it away in the final six overs. They’re warm favourites now, but a strong start or wickets in-hand, and Afghanistan will be well in this.

New Zealand set Afghanistan 289 to win!

50th over: New Zealand 288-6 (Chapman 25, Santner 7) Naveen will finish off and his first four balls cost two twos and two singles; he’d’ve took that, even if Rashid chucking into the wrong end cost a potential run out. A pilfered leg bye follows, then Santner admonishes a colossal four down the ground, making it 11 off the over, and out of almost nowhere, New Zealand look strong; Afghanistan will be rueing all those missed chances.


49th over: New Zealand 277-6 (Chapman 20, Santner 2) Ach, Azmat flings one above waist-height which Chapman flays for four through cover … but the free hit yields just a single. Another follows, then Chapman punishes four to long off and Rashid runs past a heave to long on which allows them to run two instead of one. And have a look! Already, this is a really useful knock from Chapman, and when Azmat lands one just outside off, he absolutely zetzes it over midwicket for six! Afghanistan have done such a good job, but these last few minutes have cost them – perhaps the match. Twenty off the over and still one to go...

48th over: New Zealand 257-6 (Chapman 2, Santner 1) Latham and Phillips spent all that time building, only to fall in quick succession and leave two new batters to try and turn an OK total into a nasty one. So credit to Naveen, who might well have been nervous, fearing an onslaught, but kept his nerve to nab a wicket with a munter, and of course one brought two.

WICKET! Latham b Naveen-ul-Haq 68 (New Zealand 255-6)

Aaaaand another! Just when New Zealand were getting away, Afghanistan have yanked them back, Latham trying another scoop, falling away, and finding his stumps messed behind him.

New Zealand's Tom Latham is bowled out
Oh dear, Tom! Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP


48th over: New Zealand 255-5 (Latham 68, Chapman 1) Chale, Afghanistan needed that, and Chapman immediately gets down the other end to giveLatham the strike.


WICKET! Phillips c Rashid Khan b Naveen-ul-Haq 71 (New Zealand 254-5)

Afghanistan finally hold one! Phillips goes hard at a wide full toss but picks out Rashid and has to leave. However, his 71 off 80 might yet prove definitive.


47th over: New Zealand 254-4 (Latham 68, Phillips 71) Now it’s Azmat’s turn to trust his nerve and after Latham misses one flung across him, he’ll feel into the over. Ahahaha! Latham meets his second delivery on the half-volley, sending six back over the bowler’s head, then steps outside off pursuing one even wider of it, somehow monstering another over midwicket! Hashmat hasn’t quite managed to hide his quicks and those dropped catches are really hurting Afghanistan now! Not too long ago, 240-250 looked possible, now it might be 270-280! And, as I type, Latham scoops a gorgeous four, then goes again and they run two! That’s a tremendous over for NZ, 18 from it, and when we look back, we might conclude that these last three overs decided the match.

46th over: New Zealand 236-4 (Latham 50, Phillips 71) The more I think about it, the more we’ve been done by the lack of a last eight. Obviously that’s not possible when the format stipulates 10 teams in one group, but three guaranteed sudden death matches isn’t enough for any tournament – especially when its teams are so well-matched. Meantime, Naveen returns, and after two singles, Phillips forces over long off where Rashid, facing the fence, chases after a catch he looks well-placed to make, only to slip and allow ball to pass through hands. This time, he’s less loquacious about the drop, and following a further single, Latham spanks a sweep to deep backward square for four. And he takes the final delivery of the over for one, raising his fifty in the process, so an over that looked decent for Afghanistan ends up costing them 10,

45th over: New Zealand 226-4 (Latham 44, Phillips 67) Farooqi returns and Phillips forces a slower one to point for one, then a leg-side wide and a single to mid off follow; these two are running their arses off. But no need to run for this one! Phillips backs away then dismisses a slower one from his countenance, over the fence at cow for six. And have a look! This time, Farooqi goes flat-out, shorter, quicker … and Phillips reads him, larruping over deep backward square for six more! My days, New Zealand needed that, and with Naveen still with overs to bowl, there’s still scope for them to do damage.


44th over: New Zealand 210-4 (Latham 43, Phillips 53) I find it really odd these two aren’t trying to get Chapman and Santner into the game by going at the bowling – perhaps that’ll come now, with Rashid bowled out and Mujeeb about to send down his final over. It yields five singles – he finishes with 1-57, Rashid 1-43 – and he leads a huddle between overs, presumably advising his mates to behave themselves. They are bang in this match.


43rd over: New Zealand 205-4 (Latham 41, Phillips 50) Latham flips around the corner for a single that raises his team’s 200, a single follows, and oh Afghanistan. Ohhhh maaaates! Rashid squares Latham up, he slices a leading edge to short cover … and Hashmat drops it! That is dreadful behaviour, it really is, and they run two before a further single allows Phillips to add one of his own, raising his fifty in the process. But really, NZ should be in an absolute mess; the missed catches haven’t been half-chances, they’ve been gimmes.

Glenn Phillips hits a shot
Glenn Phillips wallops a six on his way to his half century. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP


42nd over: New Zealand 199-4 (Latham 37, Phillips 48) Oh cricket, how evil art thou? Immediately after the drop, Mujeeb has to come on and bowl, he cedes one from four … and then sends down a half-volley that Phillips dematerialises over square leg for six, the partnership now 89 off 122. However, it now seems safe to say that whatever happens in the next eight overs, Afghanistan will chasing something gettable.

41st over: New Zealand 192-4 (Latham 36, Phillips 42) Afghanistan have bowled so well today – don’t forget, they’ve also dropped two very takeable catches and missed a run out. Anyroad, Latham takes a quickie to short third then, when Rashid drags down and strays straight, Phillips annihilates a pull for four. Rashid, though, responds with a pearler, persuading one to grip, turn, lift and scorch past the outside edge; the bowler likes it and the batter shows his respect. But goodness me, I mentioned dropped catches just a second ago and have a look at this! Latham stretches forward, sweeps, and at backward square, Mujeeb opts to go with one hand when initially moving for the ball with two, palming what should’ve been a gimme to the turf! How important might that be come the final analysis?

40th over: New Zealand 185-4 (Latham 34, Phillips 37) Nabi replaces Farooki, who’s bowled well today; his contribution, and that of Azmat, have allowed Hashmat flexibility to deploy and rotate Afghanistan’s spinners without worrying if he needs to hold any back. And again, NZ just can’t get the ball away, this over yielding a leg bye and three singles; with the rate at 4.62, they need to chuck hands to set anything like a par target.

39th over: New Zealand 181-4 (Latham 32, Phillips 36) Surely at least one of these two needs to go soon, if for no other reason that there are some heavy bats in the hutch. I’m really enjoying this spell from Rashid, who’s bowling with proper venom – he knows the match is in the balance – ands when, after four singles, Latham gets down to sweep, he’s raging when the ball drops short of backward square; he wanted Farooki to expend effort not catching it.

38th over: New Zealand 177-4 (Latham 30, Phillips 34) At this point, 280ish looks a long way away; nothing suggests the batters are able, or about to choose violence. After a wide, Latham eases two to deep backward point, one to similar area follows, and apropos of nothing, why do Afghanistan play in blue? We need more variety in kits.

37th over: New Zealand 173-4 (Latham 27, Phillips 34) This could be a fascinating spell because Rashid finds another nasty googly … but this time, Phillips is deft in turning it fine for four.


Impact is umpire’s call – and though the ball was hitting, it’s umpire’s call on that one too.

37th over: New Zealand 169-4 (Latham 27, Phillips 30) Rashid returns with five overs left to bowl and Phillips turns to square leg, gurbaz missing his pick-up and allowing two; the bowler finds this hilarious. But what’s this? After a dot, Rashid turns in a wrongun, the batter presses forward, misses, and there’s an appeal; it’s rejected and Afghanistan go upstairs.


36th over: New Zealand 167-4 (Latham 27, Phillips 28) Farooqi returns, and his skiddy style looks a good fit for this pitch and these circumstances – it’s not easy to hit him over the top. I wonder if the batters might stand a step further down to try and manufacture some air, but in the meantime, the line is good so even when a full toss arrives, Phillips can do no more than force to mid off and sprint a single.

35th over: New Zealand 163-4 (Latham 25, Phillips 26) I wouldn’t say the sprint’s on but NZ are finding it a little easier to work the ball around, this over yielding three singles and a wide. The sun is setting in Chennai now – I wonder if that might hamper visibility – but they’re not expecting the dew to have much impact on this match.

34th over: New Zealand 159-4 (Latham 23, Phillips 25) Five dots from Nabi then Phillips goes hard at a pull, and Azmat’s on the fence … but he doesn’t measure his run around it well, coming in too and leaping as the ball passes over his one-handed flying leap for six! If he’s stuck-on there, he pouches it in his midriff with both hands.

33rd over: New Zealand 153-4 (Latham 23, Phillips 19) Latham paddles two to point, then follows one as it passes him, going down on one knee to tickle fine, earning four in the process. Two to long on follow, Phillips yanked back for the second – that’s really well-run – then two more, thanks to a Hashmat misfield. Ten off the over.

“Glid is OK, in that there’s a precedent,” advises John Starbuck. “Graham Chapman uses it a fair bit in ‘A Liar’s Autobiography’, if you’re ready to take a Python as a mentor.”

That sounds scary, but it reminds me of a yarn. A mate of my bro-in-law kept snakes ands would let them roam about his flat. He kept waking to find one lying next to him on the bed, dead straight, so took it to the vet, worried it was ill. Only to learn it was fine, it was just measuring up: could it neck him in a oner?


32nd over: New Zealand 143-4 (Latham 13, Phillips 19) I remember OBOing Afghanistan at the 2015 World Cup, and even then you could see something was building. Now, though, they’re an entirely different proposition, which reminds us that 10 teams is too few for a tournament like this – that’s changing for next time – but also, that the richer natiions need to find time to play the poorer ones, for the good of the game but also for their own good. One off this latest Nabi over, Latham shoving to long off, and this is terrific stuff.

31st over: New Zealand 142-4 (Latham 12, Phillips 19) Mujeeb returns looking to break a partnership that’s now 28 off 50, but this pair are starting to assert themselves, two singles and a two keeping the scoreboard ticking; the plan, I guess, will be to stay in for another 10 and give the sloggers a platform from which to attack.

30th over: New Zealand 138-4 (Latham 11, Phillips 16) Yup, this innings is back under way, Phillips making room to drive through the off side and instead edging four fine past the keeper. A single follows and you wonder what total NZ will be after here; my guess is about 280, but they’ll have to work hard to get that and will kn ow that if, say, Gurbaz comes off, it might not be enough.

29th over: New Zealand 133-4 (Latham 11, Phillips 11) Philips turns a slower-ball bouncer away for one, then Latham responds with another glided – glidden – glid? – to backward point. Then, offered a smidge of width, Phillips rises from his crouch to slice four through third. A single follows, making it seven off the over – NZ’s best in quite some time, and these two are in now.

28th over: New Zealand 126-4 (Latham 10, Phillips 5) Now Nabi – who was expensive in his first spell – returns, and he immediately goes around to the lefty Latham, who’s keen to move his feet and get down the track. But Nabi’s really clever in staying wicket-to-wicket, Latham opting against taking any risks, playing out a maiden, and it’s now 9.5 overs since NZ scored a boundary.

27th over: New Zealand 126-4 (Latham 10, Phillips 5) Nope, more Azmat – for now – as we see a train mosey around the perimeter of the ground, through a tunnel; it looks nice and serene. And it’s a bit that way in the middle, another over without a boundary, this time four dingles added to the total, and whatever happens from here, it looks like Afghanistan will be chasing a gettable target.

26th over: New Zealand 122-4 (Latham 8, Phillips 3) I wonder if Hashmat is tempted to get Nabi back on; I’d not fancy judging his pace, with him targeting the stumps, under the pressure Latham and Phillips now face. In the meantime, though, it’s Rashid, who appeals for lb when the former misses a sweep but impact was outside the line, then sends down four dots with the only scoring delivery a two to Latham, sliced to backward point. Since Ravindra went, 5.4 overs ago, NZ have scored just 13 runs.

25th over: New Zealand 120-4 (Latham 6, Phillips 3) Afghanistan are rattling through the overs now, looking to get them bowled quickly before NZ have had a chance to assess the match-state. The batters take a single apiece off the first two balls of the over, then Latham adds another to deep backward square, the rate now dropped below five to 4.80.

24th over: New Zealand 117-4 (Latham 4, Phillips 2) Rashid is into his spell now, Latham taking his first delivery for one to backward square, after which four dots follow.

“I’ve been telling my wife for years that she could save an enormous amount of time and money on make-up by simply allowing a soft beard to enhance her perfect bone structure,” reasons Kim Thonger, “but, to John Starbuck’s point that ‘a full beard keeps you warm in winter and soaks up the sweat in summer,’ she would I’m sure respond with the wellk-nown saying, thought to have originated from Victorian etiquette guides, ‘Horses sweat, men perspire and ladies glow’.”

I daresay she may still want make-up for her eyes, though of course they may be permanently dazzled by her husband’s beauty.


23rd over: New Zealand 116-4 (Latham 3, Phillips 2) So what do Afghanistan do now? Try and force another couple of potentially definitive wickets, or look to fiddle a few potentially expensive overs while NZ rebuild? In the immediate term, Azmatullah continues, ceding three singles, and this match is on a rolling boil now.


22nd over: New Zealand 113-4 (Latham 1, Phillips 1) This game. This game! A wide then a single to each batter, and one of these two will have to do something. NZ look to have the power to get out of this, but so did England, until they didn’t. On that wicket, Mitchell’s error, I think, aside from his folly in attacking when he needed to rebuild, was pulling a ball that was too full. He might live to regret it.

WICKET! Mitchell c Zadran b Rashid Khan 1 (New Zealand 104-4)

It’s a procession! Three wickets in nine balls! This is a bit panicky too, Mitchell forcing a pull straight to midwicket when he might just’ve done nothing – an approach underrated not just in cricket but in life. Oh I say!

Afghanistan celebrate the wicket of Daryl Mitchell.
Afghanistan are at it again! This time Rashid Khan removes Daryl Mitchell. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP


22nd over: New Zealand 110-3 (Mitchell 1, Latham o) Do we got ourselves a ball-game? We got ourselves a ball-game!

WICKET! Young c Ikram Alikhil b Amatullah 54 (New Zealand 110-3)

Two wickets in the over and what a grab this is! Young looks to drive but introduces the inside edge … and Ikram dives inside the ball, somehow sliding glove between grass and cork! Suddenly, NZ have two new batters at the crease, and what an over that was from Azmat; what a change it was from Hashmat.

Will Young is out
Another one for Omarzai! Photograph: Alex Davidson/ICC/Getty Images


21st over: New Zealand 110-2 (Young 54, Mitchell 1) What a crucial breakthrough that might prove to be, and in comms, Smith is criticising Ravindra saying he worked hard to get in then gave it away – not something you’d see Williamson do. I guess in his defence he’s a different kind of batter, in at four not three and there to hit the ball hard. But what’s this?! Young edges, Alikhil takes a screamer, diving left … and has it carried? I think it has, and if it has, this match done changed!

WICKET! Ravindra b Azmatullah 32 (New Zealand 109-1)

Even poetry is crap more often than it’s good and Ravindra won’t want to see this again, hoiking fresh air over the square-leg fence as a length ball rattles his timber.

Azmatullah Omarzai removes Rachin Ravindra.
Azmatullah Omarzai sees off Rachin Ravindra. Photograph: R Satish Babu/AFP/Getty Images


21st over: New Zealand 109-1 (Young 54, Ravindra 32) Azmatullah into the attack; he avoids beginning the over with a boundary ceded.

20th over: New Zealand 109-1 (Young 54, Ravindra 32) What I like about Ravindra is his composure and all-purposeness: he’s not remotely fazed by any situation, and doesn’t spray the heavy artillery unless it’s necessary – he’s got hands and wrists too. This time, Rashid opens his over with a wide – he’s got to sort that discipline, and soon – then two to midwicket and one to mid on complete the scoring for the over. It’s been a while since Afghanistan threatened a wicket; the partnership is 79 off 82.

“I beleive Deepak Puri (or rather his father) is probably referring to food from the north of the subcontinent not all of South Asia,” writes Rishabh. “But other than that I agree with him. Perpetual lurker, first-time messager. Really enjoy the OBO!”

On which point, another recommendation with apologies for those not in London: I’m told the chops in the Lahore Kebab House, found in Stepney Green, are sensational and unmissable.

19th over: New Zealand 105-1 (Young 54, Ravindra 29) We see footage of Netherlands beating South Africa, and what a buzz that was. What we’re seeing, I think, is what we’re seeing in football too – there are more good players knocking about than ever before, so everyone has them – and in cricket, you can’t just chuck on expensive and talented subs until you win anyway. Meantime, another over opens with a boundary, the ravishing Ravindra ramming over cover for four and raising his team’s hunnert in the process, then two singles and a leg bye follow; Afghanistan need a wicket, like the sunshine.

18th over: New Zealand 98-1 (Young 54, Ravindra 23) Again, Rashid begins with a four-ball, Young thrashing a cut through backward point for a boundary and a very fine fifty – off 57 deliveries. Two singles follow and the rate is climbing, now at 5.44.

17th over: New Zealand 92-1 (Young 49, Ravindra 22) Naveen continues and I daresay Hashmatullah wants him racing through as many cheap overs as possible. And he’s doing a decent job, ceding four from five, as Watto explains that Nabi is so difficult to face because his arm-speed stays the same regardless of the pace on the ball. But then Ravindra, who’s just taken two to midwicket, absolutely cleanses – chleanses, even – a drive, in the air and to the right of a flying extra for four. His poise at the crease is terrifying.

“It’s looking increasingly likely that the final will be between Netherlands and Afghanistan,” notes Kim Thonger, “and in that circumstance, how does one choose between two underdogs? I’m inclined to cheer for the Netherlands purely on the basis of their orange clothing, which will clash marvellously with the flushed faces of all the embarrassed supporters of Tier 1 nations, who booked their hospitality packages months ago.”

16th over: New Zealand 84-1 (Young 48, Ravindra 15) Rashid Khan into the attack, which signals a key period of the match; if he can’t make something happen, his team are struggling. And his loosener is poor, short and wide, so Young cuts hard and Farooqi misses with his dive at short third. He’s hurt too, I daresay pride more than body, so we take drinks while he’s treated then five dots follow; decent comeback from the bowler.

“My Indian father is one of the best cooks of Indian food on the planet,” writes Deepak Puri. “I’m maybe bigging him up a tad, but only a tad and he says Pakistan is the place to go if you want the best South Asian food. Not so sure it’s the best on the drinks front though.”

I guess this is reason enough to recommend two of my favourite dishes in London, both vegetarian: the aloo chat and beetroot chops pao at Gymkhana. More generally, if anyone’s got good lamb dhansak orr lamb biryani recipes, I’d be glad to meet them, because I tried making both a while ago, and totally disgraced them, myself and the human race.

15th over: New Zealand 80-1 (Young 44, Ravindra 15) Three singles, then Young, determined to take his chance in the absence of Williamson, prances down, turns a length ball into a slot ball, and demolishes another six over the bowler’s head. Ten off the over and NZ are turning it up; Afghanistan need something here.

“To paraphrase slightly,” writes Geoff Wignall, “surely shaving is an act of vanity in itself? (Personally, and like many others, I just take the hair clippers to my beard from time to time, without attachments and on minimum setting; more often in summer.)”

For me it’s an act of marriage preservation and comfort, but in general I’d say that it’s the beard which is seen as accoutrement and personality, not the face.

14th over: New Zealand 70-1 (Young 36, Ravindra 13) Naveen needs to send down a tight one here, Afghanistan can’t let NZ build momentum, and they’ll not be displeased with the five runs this over yields. But the “1” in the wickets column is a problem for them because it gives NZ scope to get into them later on and this partnership is already 40 off 45.

13th over: New Zealand 65-1 (Young 34, Ravindra 10) Ravindra looks to go big, down on one knee with the mow set to go, but he gloves it and they run one … then Young skips down to mash six over the bowler’s head! What a sound that made, so satisfying, and when he quickly gets down the other end, Ravindra invites himself to the party, twinkling down before his long levers dispatch six more over long on. Fifteen from the over, and NZ needed that.

12th over: New Zealand 50-1 (Young 27, Ravindra 2) Ravindra gets away off his 13th ball, one into the covers, then Young flicks to midwicket and they sprint two. Two more singles follow, and this is pretty old skool so far, NZ limiting risk to keep wicket in hand.

“A full beard keeps you warm in winter and soaks up the sweat in summer,” says John Starbuck who hasn’t shaved since 1969. “A small, Van Dyke style doesn’t do either but advertises you as a vain ‘un.”

Surely having a beard is itself an act of vanity? Also, sweat and hair doesn’t seem like a marriage I want consummated on my face when already hot and bothered, but guess I’m speaking out of relative ignorance and perhaps the experience is more affirming than I fear.

11th over: New Zealand 45-1 (Young 24, Ravindra 0) Nabi into the attack and Young takes a quick one into the on side, giving the bowler four balls at the still-scoreless Ravindra. He pinches a leg bye after the second, though – but with the rate now down to 4.09, Afghanistan will be relatively happy with where this match is at.

10th over: New Zealand 43-1 (Young 23, Ravindra 0) There was some dispute as to whether the drop was off a bump– words that only make sense in cricketing context, though perhaps we could stretch to DJing – but further replays show the ball went straight to hand. Anyhow, Naveen replaces Farooqi and Young turns him away behind square on the on side for a single, the only run off the over, and the longer Ravindra stays on nowt, the edgier he might get.

9th over: New Zealand 42-1 (Young 22, Ravindra 0) On the rope, we see Williamson rehearsing a shot, beard all over the show, so a question for beard-havers: is it not itchy and hot to walk about with a kitten on your face when it’s sunny like this? Back in the middle, Mujeeb drops wide and short so Young cuts him to the fence, then after a single, Ravindra, yet to score, stretches down, turns to square leg, and Hashmatulla dives … but mistimes his grab, directing ball into ground via wrist. That’s another dreadful error I’m afraid, and I fear it won’t go unpunished.

8th over: New Zealand 37-1 (Young 17, Ravindra 0) Afghanistan will know, though, that this is a partnership they must soon break if they’re to win here. And Farooqi almost diddles Young with the first ball of his fourth over, slanting it in and cramping the batter, who edges over the stumps … then collars a pull for four. Sport is brutal and we love it! A two follows, then a single, and this is really nicely balanced – but you sense it won’t take much for NZ to pull away.

7th over: New Zealand 30-1 (Young 10, Ravindra 0) I said Afghanistan needed that, not because NZ were getting away from them but because they were setting up the match while chances to set them back were getting missed. In comms, Smith was vocalising his surprise they didn’t bat and exert scoreboard pressure, which makes sense, but on the other hand, they’ve made three serious wicket-taking opportunities, so the call was, so far, a sound one; it’s just not been backed up with competence in the field.

WICKET! Conway lbw b Mujeeb 20 (New Zealand 30-1)

A bit of extra pace pinned Conway on the crease and I’m surprised this wasn’t giving out on pitch; the ball was smashing leg, and the batter knew it, starting the long trudge back as soon as he’d seen the first replay. Afghanistan needed that.

6th over: New Zealand 30-0 (Conway 20, Young 10) Gorgeous shot from Comway, floating back, rising onto tippy-toes and stroking four through cover. But then, after a dot, he spirits a quicker, straighter one into the pad that looks close, very close. The appeal is rejected, but Afghanistan review…


6th over: New Zealand 26-0 (Conway 16, Young 10) Conway flicks off the pads when Farooqi strays straight but only gets one off what was a four-ball. Young then takes a single into the on side, and this is a steady start from NZ.

5th over: New Zealand 23-0 (Conway 14, Young 9) What’s this new thing of interrupting an over with some kind of informative guff, as though it’s finished? Let’s watch the match, then impart colour-info at changeover, please. Anyway, three dots, then Young twinkles down to lift Mujeeb over his head for six, then two more dots, and Afghanistan could use something here.

4th over: New Zealand 17-0 (Conway 14, Young 3) A change at slip, Nabi in for Rahmat, while in comms, Shane Watson notes that when he fielded there, every catch felt like a goodun because they’re all difficult. Meantime, Young nudges to extra and sets off, Gurbaz running in … but he can’t pick up cleanly! If he had, that could well have been out, and perhaps the margins are going against Afghanistan today, a sense intensified when Conway steps down to one-hand a lovely drive through extra for four. New Zealand could be in trouble but instead they’re cruising.

Afghanistan's Fazalhaq Farooqi rues a chance.
Afghanistan's Fazalhaq Farooqi rues a chance. Photograph: Eranga Jayawardena/AP


3rd over: New Zealand 12-0 (Conway 10, Young 2) Mujeeb strays to leg and Conway doesn’t need asking twice, onto it in a trice and sending four racing down through finest leg. Two twos follow – Ian Smith notes the second of them was ambled, telling us it’s hot hot hot out there – then two singles. Ten off the over, and NZ will feel they’re away now.

2nd over: New Zealand 2-0 (Conway 1, Young 1) It’s pace from the other end with Farooqi, who also bowled nicely in Delhi. He runs in hard and sends down three pretty straight ones that come in, then finds a bit of extra bounce, persuading one to leave Young, who edges … and Rahmat drops a dolly at slip! He had to move left and turn hands a little, but he’s there to pouch those and didn’t, hard hands failing to accept a ball that came at them quickly. Maiden.

Meanwhile, talking of who’d win a cricketing nations food and drink-off, here’s Bazbaas.

1st over: New Zealand 2-0 (Conway 1, Young 1) Mujeeb bowled beautifully against England and he’s off to a good start here, opening with four dots – Conway tries cutting the second but misses. But a drive to mid on earns one, then Young turns around the corner for another – but the drift Mujeeb found won’t have been lost on him.

Righto, we’re good to go, Mujeeb with the ball.

Afghanistan’s comes to a decent crescendo but.

Anthem time. Can Italy start taking cricket seriously please.

Here come the teams…

Which cricketing nation has the best food and drink? Off the top of my head, I’m going for an India v West Indies final, but South Africa are also in the mix.

Devon Conway’s a decent footballer – I didn’t know that – and he chose cricket because the matches last longer. Smart rationale. And Rachin Ravindra’s a big fan of him as a bloke – it’s really sweet seeing what good mates they are.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Lockie Ferguson goes today. If he’s firing, he gives this side a different dimension and, as I type, Simon Doull says there might be enough pace in the track for NZ to go short. He also suggests that batting first is a decent option, and isn’t expecting much dew given the head of the day, which makes me wonder if Hashmatullah’s call to field was the right one; I thought he’d want to get in the match by setting a target, but I guess he trusts his bowlers to get their strangle on.

Which is to say that Afghanistan are unchanged, while New Zealand bring in Will Young for the injured Kane Williamson – who Latham hopes will be available later in the competition.


Afghanistan: 1 Rahmanullah Gurbaz, 2 Ibrahim Zadran, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi (capt), 5 Azmatullah Omarzai, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Ikram Alikhil (wk), 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 10 Naveen-ul-Haq, 11 Fazalhaq Farooqi.

New Zealand: 1 Devon Conway, 2 Will Young, 3 Rachin Ravindra, 4 Tom Latham (capt, wk), 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Glenn Phillips, 7 Mark Chapman, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Mark Henry, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Trent Boult.

Tom Latham wasn’t sure what to do but intimates he’d have bowled too. However, he’s happy with the chance to set a target, wants his players to focus on themselves, and keep things simple.

Afghanistan win the toss and field!

Hashmatullah explains that the spin factor in the first dig and dew factor in the second motivated the tactic. But though they celebrated after beating England, that match is gone and now they need to win another.

It’s proper hot in Chennai today, so no risk of rain, and here comes the toss…

I mean obviously India are looking good, but it’s rare in any tournament to see the side that plays best in the group stages to go on and win it. I guess you’d back them to win home serieseseses against any of the sides in the competition, but once the semis get going – and really, I’m missing quarters – there’s no margin for error and lots of nails players able to alter the flow of a match.

Who’s going to win this competition, then? Adams, Adamly, Adamowlski, Adamson, Adler, Anderson…


They couldn’t could they? Surely not … but they might!

On the face of things, Afghanistan’s undressing of England was up there with the biggest shocks in World Cup history, the holders defeated by a side from a war-torn land, playing in just their third such competition, operating on the tiniest of budgets.

The reality, though, is a little different. It’s true that England aren’t currently at it – both today’s teams know that – but it’s also the case that Afghanistan are a serious side, especially in subcontinental conditions. Rahmanullah Garbaz is an incendiary talent, while Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai are also dangerous; if one or more of them hit today, we’ll be in for a game.

Moreover, while it’s true that England were put under pressure by Afghanistan’s batters, it was their bowlers who seized the match, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan taking eight wickets between them for an average economy-rate of 3.89. These boys can play, and with Chennai likely to offer them more assistance than did Delhi, they’ll be a proper threat here.

The problem they have is that New Zealand, on a run of seven straight wins, are the least flaky sports team that ever was, the chances of them having their pants pulled down almost zero. We can safely say that, whatever happens, Ian Smith will not be reporting “the barest of arses” eight hours hence.

Which is to say that if Afghanistan are going to win, they’ll have to take that victory for themselves – and New Zealand are beatable. Without Kane Williamson, their batting looks a little light, and on a track likely to give us a relatively low-scoring game, his absence could be a problem, with their attack solid rather than deadly. If Afghanistan can up the pressure, whether by competitive target or early wickets, this will be close.

Play: 3pm local, 9.30am BST

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