T20 World Cup: What went wrong for New Zealand who were humbled by Afghanistan

Afghanistan trounced the Black Caps by 84 runs

Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz dive to make his ground under the watch of New Zealand's wicket keeper Devon Conway during their T20 World Cup cricket match | AP Afghanistan's Rahmanullah Gurbaz dive to make his ground under the watch of New Zealand's wicket keeper Devon Conway during their T20 World Cup cricket match | AP

New Zealand entered the 2024 T20 World Cup as one of the favorites to win the tournament. As runners-up in the 2021 event and having reached the semi-finals in the previous three editions, New Zealand were expected to play well against Afghanistan who are presently ranked 10th in the T20 rankings and have never advanced to the semifinals in T20 World Cup history. Unfortunately, New Zealand were given a hefty blow by Afghanistan as they were bowled out for just 75 runs in 15.2 overs while chasing a target of 160. Afghanistan have won back-to-back matches and emerged as a contender for the trophy. Meanwhile, New Zealand currently have a difficult route to qualifying for the Super 8, with a net run rate of -4.200. What went wrong for New Zealand, who were expected to be favourites for the trophy?

Subpar bowling

The average first-inning score at Providence Stadium in Guyana over the previous 20 matches is 149 runs, and the pitch can be difficult for batters. However, the bowlers were powerless to stop the Afghanistan openers, who put up a 103-run partnership for the first wicket and Rahmanullah Gurbaz added 80 runs to the total of 159 for six wickets. Trent Boult and Matt Henry both grabbed two wickets each, while Lockie Ferguson claimed one. However, Afghanistan only lost two wickets as they scored 127 runs, and the rest of the wickets fell in the later overs. 

Missed opportunities in the field

New Zealand squandered many opportunities in the field, including one missed runout by Devon Conway and a dropped catch by Finn Allen. After the match, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson confessed that his team's fielding was lacking. "Our fielding was a letdown, particularly in the first 10 overs, we had our chances and we didn't use them. We didn't take our opportunities and it goes a long way in changing the outcome of the match. Once they had a score, their bowlers executed their skills well. We'll have a talk about this and then look to come back well in the next match," he added.

Disastrous batting

The Batting side was certainly the main culprit and reason for New Zealand's defeat. Chasing a 160-run goal on a tricky surface was always going to be difficult, but New Zealand fell far short, scoring just 75 runs in 15.2 overs. This is New Zealand's fourth lowest innings total in T20 history, and the second lowest in the country's T20 World Cup campaigns. Only two batsmen in New Zealand reached double figures, scoring 43 runs while losing six wickets. New Zealand definitely needs to improve its batting performance. 

Team selection and injuries list

For this World Cup, New Zealand chose a side full of experienced players. Only two players, Rachin Ravindra and Matt Henry, had never competed in a T20 World Cup before this year's competition. How did New Zealand fail to beat Afghanistan despite having a roster full of experienced players? Despite the team's expertise, multiple players have lately suffered injuries. Kane Williamson had a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his knee while playing in the IPL 2023, and since his recovery, he has struggled to maintain his form. Devon Conway, the team's wicket-keeper-batter, had surgery to repair a broken joint in his left thumb and was ruled out of the IPL 2024. He only returned to the playing XI just before the start of the World Cup. Opening batter Finn Allen has also only recently recovered from a back injury.  

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