Clinical New Zealand Seal Semifinal Berth

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Clinical New Zealand seal semifinal berth. New Zealand's seamers broke the back of Afghanistan's line-up in the powerplay.

Clinical New Zealand Seal Semifinal BerthNew Zealand's seamers broke the back of Afghanistan's line-up in the powerplay.

New Zealand qualified for the semifinal of the T20 WC 2021 with a clinical show against Afghanistan. Their win not only knocked out their opponents of the day, but also drew the curtains on India's campaign, who had pinned their hopes on Afghanistan coming out on top in this contest. But while New Zealand lost the toss advantage, they were thoroughly dominant with the ball, setting up a comfortable win eventually.

How did New Zealand restrict Afghanistan?

Having lost the toss, New Zealand's bowlers were exceptional in two phases of the innings – the powerplay where they conceded only 23 runs and picked three wickets and the death overs where they gave away 33 for 4 wickets.

What did they do in the powerplay?

New Zealand's pace attack went slightly different than usual in this day encounter at Abu Dhabi. Instead of sticking to their full lengths, which they are well known for, all their pacers stuck to a back of a length and mixed it up with some cutters from the same length. It resulted in first keeping Mohammad Shahzad quite for about 10 deliveries. He later swiped at a short one from Adam Milne to be caught behind. Hazratullah Zazai was done in by the speed off the pitch and ended up chipping Trent Boult to midwicket tamely. Tim Southee found success with the fuller one later as Rahmanullah Gurbaz was trapped plumb in front, leaving Afghanistan at 18/3.

Was it similar in the death overs too?

New Zealand were similarly clinical in the last five overs as well. James Neesham conceded only two runs in the final over, picking up a wicket while Trent Boult picked two in the penultimate over. It included the crucial wicket of a threatening Najibullah Zadran, who had made 73 by then, and looking to break loose in the end overs. He was caught splendidly by a diving Neesham at long off, an effort that helped shave off some crucial runs towards the end.

What happened in the middle overs then?

This was when Najibullah Zadran found his groove. He stitched together stands worth 37 and 59 with Gulbadin Naib and Mohammad Nabi respectively. It helped that the spinners were brought on in this period, and Najibullah was particularly aggressive against Mitchell Santner whom he hit for two sixes in an over. This was the lone productive period with the bat for Afghanistan, and Najibullah was the only one who threatened to hit boundaries. He ended up hitting nine of the 12 boundaries scored in total in the innings, and finished with a career-best 73.

Was it not enough for Afghanistan to mount a challenge?

Clearly not, especially after New Zealand's openers blazed away in the powerplay. While Bruce Mitchell was the aggressor initially, his dismissal by Mujeeb was followed by a mini onslaught by Guptill who hit the spinner for consecutive boundaries. But Rashid ended that innings, having Guptill bowled for 28 and picking up his 400th T20 wicket. It still was not enough for Afghanistan to restrict New Zealand.

Why couldn't they?

Both Williamson and Devon Conway were clinical through the middle overs. After a sedate start initially, the duo began to sweep and knock around the spinners in the gaps to keep the scoreboard ticking along. That partnership only grew in strength as the innings progressed with the spin challenge negated through the middle overs. They eventually finished with an unbeaten 68-run stand that got New Zealand over the line, and put them in the semifinal of an ICC event for the 14th time.

Brief Scores: Afghanistan 124/8 in 20 overs (Najibullah Zadran 73; Trent Boult 3/17) lost to New Zealand 125/2 in 18.1 overs (Kane Williamson 40*, Devon Conway 36*) by 8 wickets

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