Kiwis ready to counter Afghanistan spin as Naib rues Shahzad injury blow - GulfToday

Kiwis ready to counter Afghanistan spin as Naib rues Shahzad injury blow

Rose-Taylor

New Zealand’s Ross Taylor believes tackling spin will be key against the Asian minnows at Taunton. Agence France-Presse

Ross Taylor insists New Zealand are ready for a trial by spin against Afghanistan on Saturday as they look to keep their winning momentum going in the World Cup.

The Kiwis edged out Bangladesh by two wickets on Wednesday, with Taylor hitting 82 in his team’s tense chase at the Oval to record their second straight win in as any matches.

New Zealand, who were finalists in the 2015 edition, have relied on their paceman to get favourable results, but Taylor believes tackling spin will be key against the Asian minnows at Taunton.

“I think against Afghanistan, they have a lot of spin there, so something to factor in,” said Taylor, who has recorded three 40 plus scores in his last four ODI innings.

“But two from two, that was what we wanted to do and we were able to do it.”

While Taylor and skipper Kane Williamson got the runs during their 105-run partnership in London, it was their pace attack led by Matt Henry that ran through the Bangladesh batting.

Henry claimed four wickets to take his tally to seven in two games.

He is well supported by Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson, who can clock speeds up to 96 mph.

Taylor beloves that Ferguson, with his express pace, is the key man for the Black Caps.

“Lockie, he just gives you that X-factor. Obviously our fastest bowler. He is going to be a key factor for us if we’re going to feature in this tournament,” said Taylor.

“I think he’s creating pressure for the guy at the other end (to take wickets),” he added.

Ferguson’s pace partner Henry said that Afghanistan are a “dangerous side” and New Zealand will treat them with “utmost respect”.

Afghanistan, who are playing just their second 50-over World Cup, have lost their two games in the tournament so far but not without a fight.

Leg-spinner Rashid Khan leads the charge with Mohammed Nabi, who returned figures of 4-30 with his off spin in their previous loss against Sri Lanka.

But it’s their batting that has let them down as they were dismissed for 152 in their revised chase of 187 in a rain-hit game Cardiff on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib admits losing Mohammad Shahzad for the rest of the World Cup is a major blow to his side’s hopes of upsetting the odds in the tournament.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Shahzad was ruled out on Thursday after suffering a recurrence of a nagging knee injury.

Minnows Afghanistan have lost their first two matches and could ill afford to lose the popular opener ahead of their clash with New Zealand in Taunton on Saturday.

“Obviously it’s a big loss for our side,” Naib told reporters on Friday. “Shahzad is a great player for Afghanistan. He did a lot. I’m also upset for him -- the last two, three weeks he’s been struggling with his knee.

“He can’t move right. In the last two weeks, I checked with the doctor and physio. I gave the time to him to recover. But unfortunately it’s bad luck for Shahzad.”

Naib believes Shahzad’s energetic presence off the pitch will be missed as much as his play on it.

“Shahzad is very energetic. Also in the dressing room he’s very funny. He entertains us every time. So we miss a lot of things from him,” he added.

Although Afghanistan have little chance of making the semi-finals of the 10-team tournament after losing to holders Australia and Sri Lanka, Naib said his team wanted to show how far they have come since their World Cup debut in 2015.

Four years ago, they lost five of their six matches, with their only win coming against Scotland.

But Naib said they were a more mature and confident unit now, with the potential to shock the more-established teams.

“It’s totally different now. The 2015 World Cup was our first for Afghanistan,” he said.

“We just thought it was a big honour for Afghanistan to participate in these kinds of events. Now it’s totally changed everything.

“Now we improve day-by-day. So here we’re not just going to participate in the World Cup. We’re here for doing something different and to show the world Afghanistan is not like the 2015 team.

“I think you saw that in the first few games. Now Afghanistan, we are totally different.

“We have world-class players in our side, world-class batsmen. We’re trying to play our best cricket here.”

Agence France-Presse

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