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Afghanistan vs New Zealand | Neesham, Ferguson Fire Black Caps to Third Straight Win

Neesham turned the game in New Zealand's favour with his maiden five-wicket haul after Afghanistan briefly threatened to rock the Black Caps. Afghanistan got off to a pretty solid start before Neesham and Ferguson caused a collapse and bundled them out for 172 in 41.1 overs.

Cricketnext Staff |June 9, 2019, 4:55 PM IST
Afghanistan vs New Zealand | Neesham, Ferguson Fire Black Caps to Third Straight Win

Jimmy Neesham (5 for 31) and Lockie Ferguson (4 for 37) shared nine wickets between themselves as New Zealand thrashed Afghanistan by seven wickets in Taunton on Saturday (June 8) to earn their third straight win in the 2019 ICC World Cup.

Neesham turned the game in New Zealand's favour with his maiden five-wicket haul after Afghanistan briefly threatened to rock the Black Caps. Afghanistan got off to a pretty solid start before Neesham and Ferguson caused a collapse and bundled them out for 172 in 41.1 overs.

In response, Kane Williamson made a sedate 99-ball 79* to help his team chase down the total in 32.1 overs.

With three wins to their name, New Zealand are currently at the top of the table while Afghanistan are yet to win a game.

Put in to bat, Afghanistan openers Hazratullah Zazai (34) and Noor Ali Zadran (31) put together a quickfire 66 for the first wicket but medium-pacer Neesham, who had struggled in New Zealand's first two matches, finally found his rhythm despite two rain interruptions.

With Mohammad Shahzad ruled out for the rest of the tournament due to a knee injury, the onus was on Hazratullah to anchor the Afghanistan innings and he made a flying start with three fours off Matthew Henry's opening over of the match. On the small west county ground, the free-hitting Afghanistan openers were doing their best to rattle New Zealand as they reached 66 in the 11th over.

But Neesham made the crucial breakthrough when Hazratullah went for one big shot too many, the left-hander hitting to Colin Munro at deep cover to depart for 34. New Zealand had two wickets in the space of three balls as Noor Ali was strangled down the leg side by paceman Ferguson.

Afghanistan lost their third wicket with the score still on 66 when Rahmat Shah was dismissed for a duck after a leading edge off Neesham was held by Martin Guptill. When Gulbadin Naib failed with a review attempt to overturn his edge behind off Neesham, Afghanistan had lost four wickets for four runs in 21 deliveries.

Play was halted due to rain with the score on 84 for 4 and although the teams returned when the weather relented 25 minutes later, another shower forced them off just two overs later. After the rain at last disappeared, Neesham shattered Afghanistan's resistance when he had both Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran caught behind to leave them 109 for 6 and earn his first five-wicket haul in ODIs.

Amidst all the chaos, Hashmatullah Shahidi kept one end intact and scored 59 off 99 deliveries, studded with nine fours. The left-hander was willing to fight it out but found no support from the other end. He was the last one to depart, becoming Ferguson's fourth victim.

By the time Rashid Khan was bowled when a Ferguson bouncer hit his helmet and cannoned onto the stumps, it was clear that aggressive New Zealand had imposed their will. The legspinner then went through a concussion test and was advised rest by the medical team, ruling him out of the second innings.

In reply, Aftab Alam dismissed Martin Guptill (nought) and Colin Munro (22) early in the innings but Williamson and Taylor gave Afghanistan no chance of making a comeback in this match.

The two veterans mixed caution with aggression and kept the scoreboard ticking with ones and twos, also finding boundaries at regular intervals. Afghanistan surely missed Rashid's presence and that allowed both the two batsmen to craft their innings without any trouble.

The 89-run stand was finally broken in the 26th over when Alam returned to knock Taylor over for 48 with a superb yorker. He was the only bowler who caused some trouble to New Zealand batsmen.

Williamson however carried on and completed his 38th ODI fifty. The skipper along with Tom Latham ensured New Zealand got over the line without any further hiccups.

New Zealand will next play India on June 13 in Nottingham, while Afghanistan will take on South Africa on June 15.

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1 India 5211 116
2 New Zealand 3959 110
3 Australia 4320 108
4 England 5253 105
5 South Africa 3537 98
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6967 124
2 India 7939 118
3 New Zealand 5347 116
4 South Africa 5602 112
5 Australia 5915 110
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Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8926 270
2 Australia 7815 269
3 England 6407 267
4 India 12141 264
5 South Africa 6220 259
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