Date: November 07, 2021
Time: 3:30 PM IST
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Preview: New Zealand and Afghanistan face each other in a must-win game at the T20 World Cup 2021 on Sunday. Notably, the winner of the contest is more likely to advance to the next round, i.e. the semi-final. It will be a big setback for the Kiwis if they fail to beat Afghanistan in this game.
Head-to-Head: This will be the first T20I between the sides.
Pitch Report: The surface at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi has proven to be a balanced wicket of late. It has been observed that once a batter settles in, batting becomes much easier. This is why keeping wickets in hand is going to be extremely crucial for both New Zealand and Afghanistan. Similar to other pitches of UAE, the prudent choice would be to bowl first after winning the toss.
New Zealand: Despite some hiccups in the game against Scotland and Namibia, the Kiwis are well on their way to the semi-final. After conceding a bit more runs in the game against the Scottish Saltires, the Kiwi bowlers did well to come back in the game against Namibia. Trent Boult, who is leading the bowling attack of the side, is in amazing form, picking 8 wickets in 4 games. Meanwhile, Martin Guptill has been their best batter with 148 runs overall from 4 games.
Afghanistan: Their biggest problem for Afghanistan is that they are more comfortable defending a total than chasing. However, the pitches in UAE assist vice versa. While they failed to defend a total against a quality Pakistan side, they failed to chase against India when they decided to change their game plan. Rashid Khan needs to regain his form, while Nabi would also look to do better in this game. Karim Janat's all-round form is one of the positives for the side going into the game on Sunday. An update on Mujeeb Ur Rahman's fitness is awaited.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Daryl Mitchell, Kane Williamson (c), Devon Conway (wk), Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult, Tim Seifert, Kyle Jamieson, Todd Astle, Mark Chapman
Afghanistan: Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Mohammad Nabi (c), Najibullah Zadran, Karim Janat, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Hamid Hassan, Usman Ghani, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Fareed Ahmad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Conclusion: New Zealand are clear favourites to win the game. Moreover, given that this is a must-win game for them, Afghanistan can hardly get any opportunity to have an edge over the Kiwis. Saying so, the Afghans cannot be underestimated, but they have to play their best game in case they wish to wish the game.
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