Napier: The New Zealand juggernaut continued to roll in the cricket World Cup as they defeated a spirited Afghanistan by six wickets for their fifth win in a row in Pool A, here on Sunday.
Chasing a modest 187, New Zealand romped home with 13.5 overs to spare with opener Martin Guptill being their top scorer with a 57-run knock. Afghanistan owed their total to Najibullah Zadran (56) and Samiullah Shenwari (54), who struck fighting fifties after left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori rocked their middle-order with a four-wicket haul and in the process the veteran New Zealand bowler touched the 300-ODI wickets milestone.
Vettori broke the back of the Afghanistan batting order by taking four wickets at the expense of just 18 runs as the Asian nation posted a modest 186. Electing to bat, the team from the troubled nation was in a spot of bother, having lost six wickets with just 59 runs on the board but Zadran and Shenwari revived their innings with some gritty batting.
However, the total was too small for their bowlers to defend against a team which is in great form. Skipper Brendon McCullum yet again provided a fiery start to the Kiwis as he blasted 42 runs off just 18 balls. He struck six fours and cleared the boundary ropes one time.
After his dismissal, the run-rate dipped but Kiwis kept going calmy towards the victory target even as the Afghans fought their hearts out. Kane Williamson (33) and Guptill added 58 runs for the second wicket before the former's run out. Ross Taylor came to the crease and reamined their till the run-chase buisness was finished.
Earlier, Kiwi paceman Trent Boult (3/34) accounted for Javed Ahmadi (1) in the third ball of the second over and Vettori removed the other opener Usman Ghani (0). Ghani could not even open his account as Vettori castled him. When Vettori bowled Nawroz Mangal (27) for his second wicket in the 16th over, Vettori became the first Kiwi bowler to claim 300 wickets in ODIs.
Later he added scalps of rival skipper Mohammad Nabi (6) and Afsar Zazai (0). It was Zadran, who took the Kiwi attack by the scruff of its neck, hitting a-run-ball 56, which was laced with 10 boundaries, including two sixes. It was his second One-day half-century.
Zadran departed in the 38th over when he was caught by Vettori off paceman Adam Milne but by that time he along with Shenwari had added 86 runs to put the innings back on track. Shenwari kept going and completed his 10th ODI fifty with an extra-cover boundary off Boult. He was dismissed by Corey Anderson but the last-wicket pair of Hamid Hassan (16) and Shapoor Zadran (2) added 20 more runs, giving some respectability to the total.