One of our greatest performances in T20s: Rashid Khan - Cricket News | Cricket Updates | Match Report

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Saturday, June 8, 2024

One of our greatest performances in T20s: Rashid Khan

 Afghanistan hammered New Zealand by 84 runs.

Afghanistan hammered New Zealand by 84 runs. © Getty

Rashid Khan described Afghanistan's 84-run win over New Zealand as "one of our greatest performances in T20". The star spinner and captain played a starring role in the victory, taking 4 for 17 - figures that were matched by left-arm seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi - as New Zealand folded for just 75 inside 16 overs in a chase of 159. While the two four-fors were central to the eventual result, the significant win was set up by another century opening partnership between Rahmanullah Gurbaz (80 off 56) and Ibrahim Zadran (44 off 41) on what was a tricky surface in Guyana.

Gurbaz and Zadran were reprieved but crucially for Afghanistan made the most of them by stitching a 103-run association. Only 55 runs came in the first 10 overs but the pair upped the ante gradually from the 11th over bowled by Michael Bracewell and eventually fired the team to a par-plus total.

"It's one of the greatest performances from us, especially in T20s against a big team New Zealand. It was a great team effort, not just the bowling...," Rashid said. "The way Ibrahim and Gurbaz started again, the wicket was not easy. They did not throw away their wickets in overs 7-10. But the way they played, they didn't throw away their wickets early on when they had a few dot balls from overs seven to nine. I think that was the time when they thought about taking it deep. Overall it was a great effort, great win for Afghanistan and it's a great feeling to be leading this side and winning against New Zealand."

Rashid said that he saw a score of about 160-170 as par in conditions that offered a little bit of swing, seam and spin to the bowlers and Afghanistan had just the attack to apply scoreboard pressure with. Interestingly enough, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson had termed Afghanistan's bowling unit as one of the better ones going around in the competition.

"It's something we have discussed before coming into the competition. Anything around 160-170 we score on this track, with the bowling unit we have, we will give tough time to the opposition. We knew there was support for the bowlers in the wicket. As long as we keep things simple and hit the right areas consistently, it was going to be more effective for us, and that's what happened," Rashid said.

"The spinners and especially the seamers, the way they started bowling and then [Mohammad] Nabi the second over, that gave us a very positive sign for the spinners that the ball is turning. Dew was there but still bowling tight, wicket to wicket, and the skills as a bowling unit we have, if we use our skills [to the potential], it's going to be very hard for the opposition to score 160."

The victory, Afghanistan's second to start the World Cup, gives them box office seat to progress out of a tricky Group C whose other leading contenders include the West Indies and New Zealand. On the other hand, defeat and the margin of it leaves the Black Caps vulnerable after making semi-finals or better in six-straight white-ball World Cups. Their NRR currently reads -4.2 and the next game against the co-hosts of the tournament may end up determining if they do make it to the next round or not.

For his part, Williamson admitted that his team was outplayed on the night in all facets of the game without making any excuse about rust given how he and a few other players came into the fixture without too much game time under the belt. Surprisingly for a New Zealand side, they were bad on the field dropping as many as two catches and also missing out on a run-out.

"It's the opportunities we had and we didn't take and on a surface like that, it goes a long way to changing the score and the outcome. We had a couple of overs to perhaps keep it something defendable but we needed to get a lot right in the second innings with what was on offer and they executed really well," Williamson said.

"The most frustrating part, I think, was the fielding in the first ten overs. It's difficult on a wicket like that when you are not putting it together in the field, to restrict opposition teams. We certainly had opportunities in that first half and we didn't take it. They simply outplayed us in all facets of the game. To get a total like that on a fiddly surface, they kept wickets in hand and played it beautifully. From our perspective, it wasn't good enough in terms of starting a tournament. It's very frustrating, but it's a quick turnaround for us now, we have to regroup quickly and move on to our next challenge."

"I think it is about taking a step in the right direction first," Williamson said of their next match. "Our performance was not good enough and we expected more from ourselves, and we know we are better than that. We know we've got another big challenge coming up, and the West Indies are playing fantastic cricket. For us it is about putting together a performance we can be proud of and gives us the best chance."

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