New Zealand vs Afghanistan at T20 World Cup: Form, head-to-head, team news

New Zealand finally get their T20 World Cup campaign underway in Friday’s clash with Afghanistan.

Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 - Australia v Afghanistan - Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, India - November 7, 2023 Afghanistan fans in the stands REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas
Afghanistan will look to build on their strong start to the tournament [File: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

Who: New Zealand vs Afghanistan
What: ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 Group C match
When: Friday, June 7, 7:30pm local (23:30 GMT)
Where: Providence Stadium, Georgetown, Guyana
How to follow: Al Jazeera will have live text coverage of the match from 4:30pm (20:30 GMT).

New Zealand finally kickstart their T20 World Cup campaign in Friday’s late evening clash in Guyana, as they face a skilful Afghanistan side in one of the most challenging fixtures of Group C.

Afghanistan got their tournament under way with a resounding 125-run victory over Uganda at the same venue on Tuesday.

A win against the Kiwis would put them in pole position for qualification for the Super 8 stage from a group, which also includes West Indies, who co-host this edition with USA, and Papua New Guinea.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson knows the challenge Afghanistan could throw at them, especially their bowling unit, led by world renowned leg spinner Rashid Khan.

“They have such a skilful team, one of the better bowling attacks in the competition,” Williamson told reporters. “And we’ve seen that in franchise competitions: the involvement, the number of Afghan players. They’re getting better and better.”

Six months ago, at the 2023 Cricket World Cup in India, Afghanistan finished sixth in the 10-team competition, above defending champions England. Their fearless brand of cricket makes Afghanistan one of the dark horses at the T20 tournament.

“They’re getting more and more top-level cricket. And we saw at the last World Cup how strong they were in the one-day international format too. So, (they have) a really highly skilled team and a number of threats,” Williamson added.

After their match against Afghanistan, the Kiwis face one of the favourites, West Indies. Masters of tournament craft, at least until the business end, the Black Caps have reached the semi-finals at four of the eight T20 World Cups and lost the 2021 final to neighbours Australia.

Afghanistan seeking T20 revenge after ODI World Cup disappointment

Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott believes his side has an advantage in Friday’s match, having played a match more than the Kiwis, who are among the last teams to begin their campaign

“I think we saw in the 50-over World Cup that we’re able to compete with any side in the world. And that’s our philosophy here,” Trott said when asked if his side has the firepower to beat New Zealand.

“So, every game that we play, we expect to put ourselves in a winning position. Or fight to win every single game.

“New Zealand [are] a very good side, very good side in all formats of the game and [have] good match-winners at their disposal. Playing against New Zealand is always a tough match and I’m looking forward to the contest – but we played them in the 50-over World Cup where they beat us. So hopefully we can get one back on them and level it up,” he added.

INTERACTIVE - Men's T20 World Cup-previous-winner-2023-1716469520
(Al Jazeera)

Pitch and weather conditions

The pitch at the Providence Stadium in Guyana has thrown a range of conditions. The West Indies won the first match there by beating Papua New Guinea by five wickets, in a nervy chase of 137.

However, the next match saw a better batting performance as Afghanistan smashed 183, eventually beating Uganda by 125 runs. The following contest was a low-scoring thriller, as Uganda chased a target of a meagre 78 runs, sealing a three-wicket win over Papua New Guinea.

Trott said it would be tricky to predict what would be a decent total on the surface.

“Certainly after [Papua New Guinea vs Uganda] you’re not quite sure, so I wouldn’t want to sit here and put a number out there because the pitch we might play is completely different,” Trott said.

“I thought what we did do is bowl really well in our first game and we’ll be looking to replicate that – because I don’t think the pitch will be too dissimilar but, if it is, we need to adjust and our boys will be ready for that.”

Ahead of the match, a thunderstorm has been forecast to hit Georgetown on the morning of the fixture, but there’s only a 30 percent chance of rain during the hours of play in the evening.

Head-to-head

New Zealand and Afghanistan have met only once in T20 internationals, with the Kiwis winning by 8 wickets during their meeting in 2021.

Form

New Zealand tied their five-match T20 series with Pakistan 2-2 in April after one of the games was washed out. Before that, they lost 3-0 in their home series against Australia.

Afghanistan defeated Uganda in their opening World Cup match while, before the tournament, they won 2-1 in a three-match series against Ireland in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

Afghanistan: W W W L W
New Zealand: L W W L L

New Zealand team news

The Black Caps will be boosted by the return of their skipper Williamson and opener Devon Conway.

Squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Finn Allen, Trent Boult, Michael Bracewell, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.

Afghanistan team news

Afghanistan have not revealed any details regarding injury doubts ahead of the game.

Squad: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Azmatullah Omarzai, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Ishaq, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan (captain), Karim Janat, Nangyal Kharoti, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Fareed Ahmad Malik.

INTERACTIVE - Men's T20 World Cup-Teams-qualified-2023-1717510038
(Al Jazeera)
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies