Kane Williamson and Devon Conway added an unconquered 68 runs for the third wicket to help New Zealand chase down the 125-run target set by Afghanistan to get home by eight wickets in their Super 12 match of the T20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. It was Trent Boult's three wickets that helped the Kiwis keep Afghanistan to 124 for eight earlier, despite Najibullah Zadran's T20I best of 73.
The result meant that India's campaign in the competition came to an end. England, Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand are the semi-finalists. If Pakistan win against Scotland, England will play New Zealand while Pakistan will play Australia in the semis. If Scotland manage an upset, then England and Pakistan will clash while Australia and New Zealand will contest the other semi-final.
Chasing 125, New Zealand faced no difficulties as they slowly and steadily moved towards victory. Openers Martin Guptill and Daryl Mitchell anchored the innings but the latter was later dismissed by Mujeeb ur Rehman in the fourth over, leaving the team's total at 26/1.
Following Mitchell's dismissal, skipper Williamson took charge alongside Guptill to steady the ship for the Black Caps. Just when Kiwis gained control of the match, Guptill fell in the ninth over to Rashid Khan.
But Williamson and Conway ensured that the Kiwis didn't suffer any more hiccups.
Earlier, the Kiwi pace trio of Boult, Southee (2/24) and Adam Milne (1/17) did not give anything away in the initial overs as the Afghan batters struggled to get going and fell in trying to force the pace of their innings.
Ish Sodhi (1/13) and Neesham (1/24) were the other New Zealand wicket-takers. Neesham conceded only two runs from the final over of the Afghanistan innings.
The left-handed Zadran rescued Afghanistan with a 59-run fifth wicket stand with captain Mohammad Nabi (14) from 56 for 4 in 10 overs.
However, there was very little support for Zadran from the rest of the batters with only one half-century partnership which proved be their undoing.
A flurry of wickets after the fall of Nabi, including that of Zadran, ensured that Afghanistan did not get to a middling score. Boult sent back Zadran and Karim Janat (2) in the 19th over as the Kiwis took control of the match.
Afghanistan got off to a poor start, losing the openers inside the first four overs.
Mohammad Shahzad (4) was the first to go in the third over when his uppercut off Milne flew to 'keeper Conway, who leapt high to complete a good catch on the second attempt.
The wily Boult struck the second blow, getting Hazratullah Zazai when the batter's attempted flick took a leading edge for an easy catch to Mitchell Santner to leave Afghanistan at 12 for 2.
Soon, it became 19 for 3 when Rahmanullah Gurbaz was leg-before to Southee for 6.
Zadran and Gulbadin Naib (15) staged mini recovery for Afghanistan with a 37-run partnership for the fourth wicket during which the former came up with the some good shots.
However, leggie Ish Sodhi broke through for the Kiwis when he had Naib chopped a widish delivery on to his stumps.
Brief Scores: Afghanistan 124/8 in 20 overs (Najibullah Zadran 73; Trent Boult 3/17) lost to New Zealand 125/2 in 18.1 overs (Kane Williamson 40*, Devon Conway 36*; Rashid Khan 1/27) by eight wickets
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