The 16th match of the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup witnessed a fiercely competitive clash between New Zealand and Afghanistan at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. In this high-stakes encounter, New Zealand secured a convincing 149-run victory, extending their unbeaten streak in the tournament.
Close contest overshadowed by fielding lapses The match was a captivating spectacle, with Afghanistan displaying early promise in their pursuit of New Zealand’s total. However, the final margin of victory does not truly capture the closely contested moments within the game. Undoubtedly, the turning point of the match was Afghanistan’s lapses in the field.
Head Coach Jonathan Trott, in his post-match analysis, pinpointed fielding errors as the primary reason behind Afghanistan’s loss. He emphasized that if Afghanistan had capitalized on crucial catches, the outcome of the match could have been vastly different.
Trott highlighted several pivotal moments in the game where dropped catches proved costly. In the second over, Rahmat Shah’s missed catch in the slips gave Will Young a second chance when the Kiwi batter was yet to score. This lapse proved significant as Young went on to score 54 runs off 64 balls before being dismissed by Azmatullah Omarzai.
Similarly, in the ninth over, Afghanistan’s skipper, Hashmatullah Shahidi, put down Rachin Ravindra, who hadn’t yet opened his account. Ravindra seized this opportunity and went on to score 32 runs off 41 deliveries. Later in the innings, Tom Latham also benefited from lax fielding when Shahidi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman both missed relatively straightforward chances.
“We dropped a catch in the second over and we dropped a few catches, really. We dropped Ravindra on nought, we dropped Young on nought. So that sort of gives a little bit of momentum to the opposition. I think if we had taken those and with the wicket of Conway, we would have been in a much better position as well,” Trott lamented during the post-match press conference.
Trott continued, “Not only like they were, I think they were about 116 for four at one stage, if I’m not mistaken. So, we would have been in an even better position had we held on to those catches. But it wasn’t to be, and, unfortunately, we have to go home regretting those tonight.”
While Afghanistan displayed moments of brilliance during the game, their inability to seize the key moments proved to be the decisive factor. Despite their spirited efforts, New Zealand emerged as victors, solidifying their status as a top contender in this thrilling World Cup tournament.