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ICC World Cup 2019: On-song New Zealand favourites against Afghanistan

Kane Williamson's side is at the top of the standings as they have a better net run-rate than Australia after achieving two contrasting victories.

ICC World Cup 2019: On-song New Zealand favourites against Afghanistan
Image Credits: Twitter/@ICC

New Zealand will start as clear favourites against Afghanistan after registering a tight win in their last encounter, when the two sides meet for a World Cup clash on Saturday.

Kane Williamson's side is at the top of the standings as they have a better net run-rate than Australia after achieving two contrasting victories.

The Black Caps cruised to a 10-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in their opening game but had to toil hard for a two-wicket victory against Bangladesh on Wednesday at The Oval in London.

In Afghanistan, they will find a side who have failed to show enough power in their batting. 

Gulbadin Naib's side enter the match on Saturday having received a seven-wicket thrashing at the hands of Australia in Bristol before they were skittled out for 152 inside 33 overs chasing a victory target of 202 against Sri Lanka in Cardiff.

Afghanistan were also dealt with a blow after wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad was ruled out of the tournament due to a knee injury. He was replaced in the squad by 18-year-old Ikram Ali Khil.

For the Kiwis, veteran Ross Taylor's form will be a huge boost but Williamson will want his other batsmen to arrest the slide they encountered against Bangladesh while chasing a modest 245 for victory.

At one point, New Zealand were coasting to the total at 160/3 but a sudden collapse left them on the brink of defeat before Mitchell Santner and Lockie Ferguson took them over the line.

For the Afghans, Mohammad Nabi took four wickets while star spinner Rashid Khan scalped two as they bowled out Sri Lanka for 201. But it was their batting that let them down with none of the batters able to make a mark.

Squads:

Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (c), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan and Mujeeb ur Rahman. 

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell (wk), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee (VC), Ross Taylor.