Less than 65 hours after a historic and by far their greatest cricket win, the Afghans will take on the Kiwis in Chennai in the 16th match of the Cricket World Cup 2023.
One-third of group stage matches have been played and now each and every game will be very crucial in deciding the top 4 teams for the Semifinal.
New Zealand have so far won all 3 of their games including their previous win against Bangladesh at the same venue but surely they can’t take the Afghans lightly as they possess a threatening spin trio of Nabi, Mujeeb and Rashid.
New Zealand too will rely heavily on their spin duo of Rachin & Santner and also Sodhi if he gets a chance. New Zealand’s middle order can be put to the test in this game which may provide the first real challenge of this tournament for Phillips & Chapman. Will Young can be brought back into the XI as a replacement for injured captain Kane Williamson. It will be interesting to see what decision will be taken at the toss by Tom Latham if he wins it.
Coming off a huge win against England, Afghanistan will be high on confidence as well as expectations. They will have a really great chance of going ahead in this tournament if they pull it off against New Zealand as well. Gurbaz will again need to provide a solid start to his team and will hope for some assistance from Zadran who has been cold in this tournament so far after being the best Afghan batsman in ODI Super League. Senior players Rahmat Shah & Mohammad Nabi have been quiet with their bat as well, if Afghanistan wants to be consistent with their performance then these two have to perform with the bat.
Pitch & Ground Report
The Match will be played in Chennai which has been so far the most low-scoring venue in this World Cup with 1st innings scores of 245 and 199. Jadeja, Ashwin, Kuldeep, Santner and even part-timer Glenn Phillips got a wicket at this venue. Starc & Boult were able to pick wickets with the new ball as well. So the match is expected to be low-scoring which may increase the chances of Afghanistan to win and create another major upset.
Probable Playing XI
Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi
New Zealand: Devon Conway, Rachin Ravindra, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham(c)(wk), Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult
Players To Watch Out For
The Main attention of this game will be Afghanistan’s spin bowling vs New Zealand’s middle order but fans should keep an eye on Rahmanullah Gurbaz and how he counters Boult & Henry’s opening spells.
Gurbaz was the key architect of Afghanistan’s win over defending champions as it was his explosive innings which gave them an upper hand early on in the game.
Gurbaz also got a good start against Bangladesh and India but couldn’t convert it into a big score. His importance to this Afghan side can be understood by the fact that out of his 8 50+ scores ( 5 100s and 3 50s ) in his ODI career, only 1 came in a losing cause which was against Pakistan in a game lost by 1 wicket on the 2nd last ball of the 50th over.
In their previous contest against Bangladesh at the same pitch, New Zealand started slow but steadily while chasing 246. The 80-run partnership between Conway & Williamson provided a platform for Daryl Mitchell to finish the game but in this game, New Zealand will be without the services of Kane & Conway might have to do the job alone of holding the innings together.
One of the best cricketers across formats since his debut, Conway is currently the 2nd highest run scorer in this tournament and is a hot contender to finish at the top by the end of the tournament. Conway is arguably the best batsman of spin in the current Kiwi lineup which again makes him a player to watch out for in this contest.
The current highest wicket-taker of this World Cup, left-arm spinner Santner can create a big difference against Afghanistan. Despite being an Asian side, Afghanistan has not been able to tackle spin in a correct way, against England they gave away 5 wickets to spinners in 24 overs while scoring only 94 runs even when 14 of those overs were bowled by part-timers Livingston and Root. They gave away 6 wickets to spinners against Bangladesh while scoring only 55 runs on a Dharamshala pitch which is comparatively more helpful for pacers than spinners. New Zealand won’t hesitate to bring back Ish Sodhi for this fixture and we may see Glenn Phillips bowling more overs than usual.
SA vs NED Dream11 Team for Match 15 of 2023 WC
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