A spin bowling masterclass by New Zealand veteran Daniel Vettori restricted Afghanistan to 186 batting first in their World Cup Pool A match in Napier on Sunday.
On a batting-friendly track, a mature 56 from 22-year-old Najibullah Zadran and 54 from Afghanistan`s leading batsman Samiullah Shenwari were the only innings of note.
With no turn on offer, the 36-year-old Vettori used all the guile learned from 291 ODIs to return figures of four for 18 off his 10 overs and set New Zealand up for a likely fifth win from as many matches.
Along the way he became the 12th player and only fifth spinner to reach 300 ODI wickets on a list headed by Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan with an exceptional 534.
But after Afghanistan`s top order had fallen and they were in trouble at 59-6 in the 20th over, Najibullah and Shenwari staged a rescue mission to ensure Afghanistan fared better than Australia and England against the New Zealand attack.
They put on 86 runs, an Afghanistan seventh-wicket record partnership, before Najibullah was dismissed for the second-highest score of his fledgling 15-match career.
The slight left-hander tried to belt Adam Milne out of the park but was unable to clear the boundary, leaving man-of-the-moment Vettori to complete the dismissal with a catch at third man.
Shenwari, whose 96 against Scotland is Afghanistan`s highest score at the World Cup, was on track to get his side past 200 when he played a rash shot and was caught by Ross Taylor off Corey Anderson.
Shenwari and Najibullah not only provided crucial input to the Afghanistan total, they also were unfazed by the reputations of the New Zealand bowlers.
Najibullah cracked eight fours and two sixes while Shenwari smacked five fours and a six.
They were particularly harsh on all-rounder Anderson whose 6.4 overs yielded 38 runs before he ended the innings when he had Hamid Hassan caught by a diving Adam Milne at long on.
Hassan had provided an entertaining 16 before his dismissal with 14 balls remaining.
For New Zealand, Trent Boult joined Vettori in the impressive bowling stakes with three for 34 off his 10 overs.