Finn Allen was the proponent of the Kiwi charge in their T20 World Cup opener against Australia as his astonishing powerplay assault, coupled with a stellar innings from fellow opener Devon Conway, helped the side reach the 200-run mark. What was really astonishing, though, was how clinical New Zealand were with the ball as they rolled the Aussies over for just 111.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, didn't even make 120 against England. Sam Curran's five-wicket haul and Mark Wood's hostile spell shackled the Afghans, and while they managed to prise out five English wickets, they were never in the ascendancy in the game.
When the two sides met in the 2021 T20 World Cup, Najibullah Zadran smacked a terrific 48-ball 73 to lend some respectability to Afghanistan's total in an innings where the next highest score was 15. The Black Caps lost only two wickets in their chase, knocking Mohammad Nabi's men out of the competition.
A lot is on the line this year too for Afghanistan, who haven't played to their potential in ICC events of late. New Zealand, on the other hand, have constantly raised their game on the biggest stages and will want to get through their second test of the 2022 T20 World Cup without a blip.
Afghanistan vs New Zealand Today Match Prediction - Who will win today's T20 World Cup match between Afghanistan and New Zealand?
Spin is the name of the game for Afghanistan, whose only shot at a win is choking New Zealand with their trio of Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan. Fazalhaq Farooqi, with his ability to swing the ball both ways, will be important. But the game will be won or lost with the spinners.
Can Devon Conway play another big innings and keep the Afghan tweakers at bay with his sweeps and reverse-sweeps? Kane Williamson has eaten up deliveries at No. 3, and an early wicket - especially that of Conway - could derail the Kiwis' plans. Daryl Mitchell's impending return will assuage some of their middle-order concerns, but they can definitely be put under the pump by some smart bowling.
New Zealand's bowling attack, however, has no such concerns. Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson form a pace battery consisting of variety and skill, while Mitchell Santner was the star of the show against Australia with a three-wicket haul. Jimmy Neesham contributes here and there to give the playing XI a well-rounded look.
Afghanistan's batting looks feeble at the moment. Hazratullah Zazai is a liability; Rahmanullah Gurbaz is unreliable; the middle order isn't world-class and is heavily dependent on Ibrahim Zadran, who has been supremely consistent of late. So while their bowlers serve as an equalizer to a certain extent, their batters might not be able to counter the Kiwi bowling.
New Zealand should be able to put two more points on the board, although they can't afford to take an opposition as dangerous as Afghanistan lightly.
AFG vs NZ Match Prediction: New Zealand to win today
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