T20 World Cup: 'One of the greatest performance in T20 cricket,' Rashid Khan after beating NZ

Sports |  IANS  | Published :

Georgetown, June 8 (IANS) After Afghanistan's cricket team delivered a remarkable performance to secure an 84-run victory over New Zealand in their Group C T20 match, skipper Rashid Khan, hailed it as "one of the greatest performances" from the team in T20 cricket.

From the outset, Afghanistan's openers, Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz, laid a solid foundation with their second consecutive century partnership. Despite the tricky pitch conditions, they demonstrated patience and strategic play, refraining from rash shots even when faced with a string of dot balls between overs seven and nine.

Rashid Khan praised their composed approach, noting that their determination to take the game deep was pivotal to the team's overall success.

"It's one of the greatest performances from us especially in T20s against a big team, New Zealand," Rashid said at the presentation. "It is all great team effort. It's not just about the bowling. It's the batting, the way Ibrahim [Zadran] and [Rahmanullah] Gurbaz started again…the wicket wasn't easy to score on. 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 and 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.”

The Afghan batting effort was complemented by an exceptional performance from their bowlers. Despite the absence of Mujeeb Ur Rahman due to a hand injury, the bowling unit rose to the occasion. Rashid emphasised the team's pre-match strategy, which revolved around scoring between 160-170 runs and then leveraging their bowling prowess to stifle the opposition.

The plan worked to perfection as the seamers and spinners alike found support in the pitch, maintaining tight lines and exploiting the turn available. Even with the presence of dew, the bowlers executed their skills impeccably, making it extremely challenging for New Zealand's batters.

"It's something we have discussed before coming into the competition," he said. "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.

“The spinners and especially the seamers, the way they started bowling and then 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,” Rashid added.

New Zealand's captain, Kane Williamson, graciously acknowledged the superiority of the Afghan side, admitting that his team was outclassed in every department. He commended the Afghan batters for their composed and effective approach on a "fiddly surface" and expressed his frustration with New Zealand's performance.

“First, congratulations to Afghanistan, they simply outplayed us in all facets of the game," he said. "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.”

With this victory, Afghanistan climbed to the top of Group C, having secured their second consecutive win. The New Zealand team, on the other hand, faces a daunting path to qualification for the Super Eight, currently languishing at the bottom of the table with a net run rate of -4.200. Their upcoming match against the West Indies is crucial, especially if the co-hosts manage to defeat Uganda in their next game, further complicating New Zealand's chances.

Rashid Khan's leadership and the cohesive effort of the Afghan team have sparked immense pride and joy among their supporters. The captain's confidence in his team's abilities was evident as he reflected on their performance: "Anything around 160-170 we score on this track, with the bowling unit we have, we will give tough time to the opposition." This victory not only cements Afghanistan's position in the tournament but also showcases their growing prowess in the world of T20 cricket.

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