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New Zealand overcome Afghanistan by one wicket



Afghanistan chose to bat in overcast conditions against New Zealand. However, sharp work from the Kiwi pacers ensured that the Asian side were bowled out for a modest total. The Black Caps had their chase derailed by Allah Mohammad Ghazanfar, Khalil Ahmed and Arab Gul Momand.

The Kiwis had an early success at the back of a stunning catch from skipper Oscar Jackson. After Hassan Eisakhil lifted a Ryan Tsourgas delivery towards the mid-wicket, Jackson ran backward before taking a fine diving catch. Tsourgas struck again in his next over, where a mistimed pull from Khalid Taniwal landed safely in Zac Cumming’s hands.

Matt Rowe, who went wicketless for his first 23 balls, then joined the party. Equipped with accurate line and length, he derived movement and bounce off the surface and scythed through the Afghan middle-order. It began with him cleaning up Sohail Khan Zurmatai in the eighth over. In his next over, he got Jamshid Zadran, who had got a start, to play on. An impeccable short-of-length delivery in the same over accounted for newcomer Rahimullah Zurmati for a duck.

It wasn’t long before he secured a five-wicket haul within 16 balls of his first scalp. Ewald Schreuder (2/15) and Jackson (1/13) joined in on the fun, and Afghanistan were bowled out for just 91.

Rowe finished with 5/21.Afghanistan bowlers made an impact with the new ball, with offspinner Allah Mohammad Ghazanfar drawing first blood by cleaning up Luke Watson for a duck. Ghazanfar continued making his presence felt on a wicket where pacers had thrived by bowling Tom Jones and Oliver Tewatiya for zero in the sixth over. Khalil Ahmed then struck with his medium pace, getting Robson Foulkes and Lachlan Stackpole caught in the seventh and ninth over. The Black Caps were in deep peril with half their side back in the hut at 42.

Afghanistan continued to confound New Zealand with their spinners. Legspinner Arab Gul Momand had Zac Cumming caught in his very first over. New Zealand’s seventh-wicket pair survived a few close calls against Momand and Ghazanfar over the next few overs.

Jackson took the lead as New Zealand added 30 runs to close in on the target. However, the game took another turn in the 25th over, when Naseer Khan Maroofkhil cleaned Sam Clode. Momand followed with the wicket of Jackson (25) in the very next over, and the game was tantalisingly poised.

Things turned in the favour of Black Caps, when Schreuder hit a four in the 27th over. Along with Rowe, he helped the Black Caps close in on the target. However, there was another twist in the tale, when Maroofkhil ran out Schreuder at the non-striker end, to leave the Kiwis nine down.

It was Rowe, New Zealand’s hero with the ball, who fought the nerves and hit Maroofkhil through the covers off the very next ball to scamper for a two, and seal a tense win.

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