3 reasons why Afghanistan's win over New Zealand in T20 World Cup 2024 is not an upset

Afghanistan celebrate picking a wicket against New Zealand.
Afghanistan celebrate picking a wicket against New Zealand.

It was a historic day for Afghanistan as they defeated New Zealand for the first time in T20I cricket during their T20 World Cup fixture on June 8 (Saturday). It was a thoroughly clinical all-round performance from the Afghans as they thumped the Kiwis by 84 runs to strengthen their numero uno status in Group C.

New Zealand looked scratchy all through the game and a lack of match practice was evident during every move of theirs. Afghanistan openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran were tested by the New Zealand bowlers up front and aided by the below-par effort in the field.

The score of 159 was always going to be a challenge for New Zealand but it never appeared they would collapse like a pack of cards with so many top-class batters in their ranks. Finn Allen was castled the very first ball by Fazalhaq Farooqi, and the domination continued thereon.

Riding on incredible spells from Farooqi and Rashid Khan, New Zealand were skittled out for a meager 75 runs to hand Afghanistan a massive win. While this was Afghanistan's first win against the Kiwis in this format, the difference between the two teams wasn't wide coming into the game and one just couldn't predict the eventual winner.

While the USA defeating Pakistan was perhaps the biggest upset in the competition's history, Afghanistan beating New Zealand was far from an upset. Having said that, let us have a look at three reasons why Afghanistan's win wasn't an upset:

# 1. Afghanistan’s batting lineup has all bases covered

While Afghanistan have always been a team loaded with world-class spinners, it's been their batting that has made the difference in recent years. Their incredible success in the fifty-over World Cup in India last year was on the back of splendid performances by their batters.

Even in the game against New Zealand, it was a mixture of maturity and aggressiveness under difficult conditions in Guyana. Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz at the top of the order make for a lethal combination.

The middle order looks very settled with the likes of Azmatullah Omarzai having the ability to mold his game according to different situations. With Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan and Karim Janat on the side, they have a trio of power hitters who can consistently clear any boundary.

# 2. Afghanistan have one of the most well-oiled bowling units

It was a bowling performance to remember for Afghanistan as they bowled out New Zealand for just 75 runs. While there is no doubt about the fact that it was one of the worst days in New Zealand cricket's history, one can't deny the ruthlessness of the Afghanistan bowlers who never left an inch for the Kiwis.

Afghanistan have always produced some high-quality spinners but it's been the resurgence of their pace unit that has made them a stronger side in both white-ball formats. Fazalhaq Farooqi has already bagged nine wickets in just two matches while Naveen-ul-Haq has been more than handy in the middle overs.

They have four top-quality spinners in Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Noor Ahmad. The absence of Mujeeb wasn't felt today, with Rashid and Nabi running through the New Zealand batting lineup. With the bowling attack Afghanistan had in the lead-up to the game, it was always going to be a tough hurdle for the Black Caps.

# 3. Afghanistan have several players with prior experience in Caribbean conditions

Fazalhaq Farooqi has been the stand out bowler for Afghanistan.
Fazalhaq Farooqi has been the stand out bowler for Afghanistan.

While it might not make a massive difference, but the experience of several top flight Afghan players having played in the Caribbean shores before might be of significant advantage. Players like Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad have been among the few Afghan players who have plied their trade in the CPL.

The Afghanistan players have acclimatized to the conditions much better than the other teams and going by their ruthless performance against Uganda, New Zealand had their task cut out. The advantage of having prior experience in these conditions might continue to aid Afghanistan as the tournament progresses.

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