This match they decided to have as a day/night affair, with a scheduled finish of 7am, but it went even later as rain fell heavily during much of Afghanistan’s innings, and on top of that it was a very one-sided affair. Ugh. This is not what we want in a World Cup. I wonder if perhaps having groups, like they had in 10 of the 11 previous World Cups, could have avoided too many spectacles like this. The 1992 edition was meant to have groups too, only they changed it to round robin at the last moment because of South Africa’s return from apartheid. There’s no real excuse this time around – they just liked the idea of it. This match is an indicator that it was probably not a good idea.
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Five Things We Learned:
(1) Afghanistan are just not there
As much as I love to sing Afghanistan’s praises, twice now we’ve seen that there is a gap between them and the top teams: first, in their warm-up loss to England, and now in this match. It is notable that New Zealand are not an absolute top team either: they are widely predicted to be fighting for the 4th and final spot in the semi-finals. But Afghanistan made them look amazing. This was one-sided. This was horrible to watch. Afghanistan didn’t even fight it out. They were bowled out in the 42nd over. That’s just not professional.
(2) New Zealand are in some kind of form
While arguably New Zealand have so far had easy opponents, don’t forget their warm-up win over mighty India, which was pretty one-sided too. Sure, so they lost their warm-up match to West Indies, but they are in some pretty good form too. Right now, they are looking like one of the semi-finalists, alongside Australia, England and West Indies, though India may yet put up an argument for their own inclusion. They are top of the table and unbeaten right now.
(3) You know you’re doing badly when you let James Neesham get five
Calling him an all-rounder is a bit of a stretch. He’s a batsman who bowls a bit. Many matches he doesn’t bowl at all. When he does bowl, he bowls an average of 5 overs. This was his first ever 5 wicket haul. His average now makes him look like a proper all-rounder. The asterisk against the performance will say that this was against lowly Afghanistan.
(4) Kane Williamson just can’t be stopped
Every match he is either the best or one of the best batsmen. He just doesn’t fail. 79 off 99 this time around was nearly half the runs scored. It wasn’t enough to get the man of the match award – Neesham got that – but it was enough to see his immense form continue.
(5) When you’re bowled off the helmet, you know you’re having a bad day
Rashid Khan’s dismissal for a duck had to be seen to be believed. He was hit on the helmet with the ball rolling down to hit the stumps. It wasn’t just getting a duck that was a problem either – he then failed two concussion tests and was unable to perform his main discipline, bowling. Not that Afghanistan were going to win anyway, but it was just that kind of day for them.