Black Caps stay perfect


Published: Sunday 8th March 2015 by The News Editor

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New Zealand maintained their perfect record at the 2015 Cricket World Cup after securing a six-wicket win against Afghanistan in Napier.

Afghanistan, opting to bat first, were dismissed for 186 – quite an achievement considering they were 59 for six at one point. Daniel Vettori became the first New Zealander to reach 300 one-day international wickets and finished with four for 18.

The Black Caps, who had never faced Afghanistan in an ODI prior to Saturday’s encounter at McLean Park, needed just 36.1 overs to reach the winning total and earn their fifth victory from five games in a tournament they are co-hosting with Australia.

Brendon McCullum’s side conclude their group-stage campaign against Bangladesh in Hamilton on March 16, while Afghanistan finish their first World Cup with a game against England in Sydney three days earlier.

Afghanistan’s decision to bat first seemed unwise as they were three down for just 24 runs inside nine overs as Vettori removed Usman Ghani (nought) and Trent Boult (three for 34) accounted for Javed Ahmadi (one) and Asghar Stanikzai (nine).

Nawroz Mangal provided some resistance but he was bowled in the 16th over for 27 by Vettori to give the left-arm spinner his 300th wicket in ODIs and leave Afghanistan reeling on 49 for four.

Afghanistan were six down after adding 10 to their total before the conclusion of the 20th over when Vettori pinned wicketkeeper/batsman Afsar Zazai (nought) leg-before and captain Mohammad Nabi (six) edged to slip.

Samiullah Shenwari (54) and Najibullah Zadran (56) provided Afghanistan with some much-needed resistance in compiling 86 runs for the seventh wicket but, after recording only his second ever ODI half-century, Zadran chased after a short Adam Milne delivery and was caught on the boundary.

Afghanistan were 145 for seven at that point, in the 39th over, and, with Shenwari also passing fifty, they went on to add another 41 to their total before their innings came to an end in the 48th over.

New Zealand made a breezy start to their innings with McCullum whacking a pair of fours in the first and third overs before he and opening partner Martin Guptill shared a pair of boundaries in the fourth.

The Black Caps were 41 without loss after five overs but, after hitting Nabi for a four and a six in successive balls in the next over, McCullum tried one heave too many and bottom-edged on to his own stumps.

His 19-ball innings of 42 included six fours and a six.

Kane Williamson entered the fray and New Zealand moved on to 68 from their first 10 overs and he and Guptill continued to score freely.

The pair had taken New Zealand past the 100-run mark and their second-wicket partnership to 58 when Williamson holed out to mid-wicket off Shapoor Zadran’s bowling to depart for 33.

Guptill, joined by Ross Taylor, earned his 22nd ODI half-century before being run out for 57, with seven fours, in the 27th over after some fine fielding from Shenwari.

By then the Black Caps were just 44 runs shy of their target and after Grant Elliott was also run out, for 19, Taylor (24 not out) and Corey Anderson (seven not out) helped New Zealand reach their target with 13.5 overs to spare.

Published: Sunday 8th March 2015 by The News Editor

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