New Zealand Stands Tall: A Strategic Masterclass in Victory Over Afghanistan

Glen Phillips of New Zealand performs on the field.

The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup was a witness to a strategic masterclass from New Zealand as they defended a challenging 288/6, leaving Afghanistan ruing their missed opportunities at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

A Rocky Start Transforms into a Tactical Middle Play

While the Black Caps initiated their innings on shaky ground, losing quick wickets and standing at a precarious 110/4, it was the middle-order resurgence that shifted the game’s dynamics. The brilliance was not just in the runs gathered, but in the calculated partnership and grounded cricketing acumen displayed by Glenn Phillips and Tom Latham.

A game-changing 144-run partnership between Phillips (71) and Latham (68) steered New Zealand from troubled waters to a position of strength. Their approach was methodical, waiting for the right deliveries to score, understanding the pitch, the bowlers, and most importantly, the match’s rhythm.

  • Resilience Amidst Pressure: After suffering early losses, the duo didn’t succumb to pressure. They gradually built their innings, nullifying the Afghan spin attack’s threat, which looked ominous at one stage.
  • Capitalizing on Afghan Mistakes: Several fielding lapses by Afghanistan, including straightforward catches and misfields, helped the Kiwis. The batters made sure to punish the bad balls, keeping the scoreboard ticking.

“To win games, you have to take your chances, especially against a team like New Zealand who will make you pay for those mistakes,” remarked Afghanistan’s captain, Hashmatullah Shahidi, reflecting on the fielding errors post-match.

Tactical Shifts and Missed Opportunities

Afghanistan, despite their spirited bowling and field setup, were marred by inconsistency in their fielding, giving away runs in misfields and dropping crucial catches.

  • Early Reprieve for Will Young: Will Young got a life early in his innings, a sitter put down by Fazalhaq Farooqi. Young didn’t score big, but such misses impact a team’s morale.
  • Conway’s Dismissal: Devon Conway started positively but was trapped LBW by Mujeeb Ur Rahman, a key moment that showed Afghanistan’s potential with the ball.
  • Ravindra’s and Young’s Fall: A fantastic double strike by Azmatullah Omarzai removed both set batters, bringing Afghanistan back into the game. The delivery to dismiss Ravindra highlighted the raw pace and movement Azmatullah brought to the table.

New Zealand’s Bowling Prowess: A Class Apart

The Kiwi bowlers, known for their discipline, once again rose to the occasion. Their skill in utilizing the conditions effectively was evident as they bundled out Afghanistan for 139, ensuring a comprehensive victory by 149 runs.

Key Bowling Highlights:

  • Initial Breakthroughs: Matt Henry and Trent Boult provided the early breakthroughs, removing the Afghan openers quickly, which proved crucial in building pressure.
  • Santner’s All-Round Brilliance: Mitchell Santner was pivotal, both with the ball and on the field. His stunning catch to dismiss Shahidi was a testament to his athletic fielding, while his bowling figures spoke volumes about his ability to choke runs and pick wickets.
  • Ferguson’s Pace Battery: Lockie Ferguson’s raw pace was too hot to handle for the Afghan lower order. His searing yorkers and sharp bouncers hurried the batters, leading to rash shots and wickets.

A special mention is warranted for Santner, who picked up his 100th ODI wicket during the match. His consistency over the years has been commendable, and reaching the milestone adds another feather to his illustrious cap.

“Getting the 100th wicket is special, but the most important thing was contributing to the team’s success. It’s always about the team first,” Mitchell Santner modestly stated post-match.

Afghanistan’s Fighting Spirit Overshadowed by Execution Flaws

Afghanistan, though spirited, seemed overawed by the occasion. Their batting never got going, wickets fell at regular intervals, and the pressure of the rising required rate was evident.

The Chase That Never Took Off:

  • Top Order Collapses: Losing early wickets hampered the chase significantly. The dismissals of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran were big blows as both batters are capable of explosive innings.
  • Middle Order’s Resilience: Despite the top-order collapse, the middle order showed some fight, particularly a 54-run partnership that briefly gave hope of a competitive game.
  • Santner’s Game-Changing Over: The over where Santner picked his 100th wicket was perhaps the final nail in the coffin, ending Afghanistan’s resistance and any hopes of a miraculous comeback.
New Zealand Secures Victory Against Afghanistan in World Cup Showdown.

Concluding Reflections: Lessons and Forward Paths

This match was a classic example of cricket being a game of fine margins. New Zealand showcased why they are considered one of the best, not just through skills, but more through their resilience and ability to bounce back from tough situations.

New Zealand’s Journey Continues

With this victory, New Zealand comfortably sits atop the points table, boasting a pristine record. Their balanced team and tactical superiority make them strong contenders for the title.Afghanistan’s Road Ahead

Afghanistan, while showing flashes of brilliance, needs to work on their consistency, especially in high-pressure games. Their fielding needs a significant boost, and their batting requires more resilience.

What’s Next for Both Teams?

New Zealand:

  • Upcoming matches against top-tier teams.
  • Maintaining winning momentum.
  • Focus on consistency and avoiding complacency.


  • Re-grouping and focusing on the positives.
  • Addressing the gaps in batting and fielding.
  • Building confidence for future matches.

In conclusion, the match was a showcase of New Zealand’s cricketing maturity and Afghanistan’s tenacity. While the Black Caps emerged victorious, the match offered numerous learnings for both teams. Moving forward, it will be intriguing to see how Afghanistan learns from this experience and how New Zealand maintains their dominance in the World Cup.

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About the Author

Born in Kolkata in 1987, Rohan Sharma, now a revered betting expert, completed a Master’s in Sports Statistics from the University of Pune in 2012. Between 2013 and 2020, he collaborated with the Indian Cricket Board, focusing on player analytics and game strategy optimization. Sharma has penned 16 academic papers, predominantly addressing the evolution of bowling techniques and field placements. In 2021, he transitioned to journalism. Sharma presently authors analytical articles on cricket, offering insights on match dynamics and player strategies, contributing regularly to various sports-centric platforms.

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