New Zealand and India are the only teams who remain unbeaten after playing three matches in the World Cup and the former have a chance at taking the top spot at least temporarily when they face Afghanistan on Wednesday. The match will be played at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
New Zealand will be wary of the threat that Afghanistan carry going into the match, especially because pitches at Chepauk have historically aided spinners. Afghanistan have two of the most potent proponents of that craft in Rashid Khan and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and they had played a major role in helping them stun defending champions England in their last match.
New Zealand though, are in a different kind of form compared to their fellow 2019 World Cup finalists. They are on a run of five back to back wins in ODIs and themselves have an in form spinner in Mitchell Santner. The Kiwis started their tournament with a nine-wicket win over England. They then beat the Netherlands by 99 runs after which they beat Bangladesh by eight wickets. New Zealand will be without captain Kane Williamson once again on Wednesday but their first two wins came without him in the ranks.
Afghanistan, though, will be buoyant after their victory against England and might take even more inspiration from the Netherlands doing away with an in-form South Africa. They started this tournament with a six-wicket loss to Bangladesh and an eight-wicket loss to India but showed positive signs in both matches before it all came together against England. Their batting clicked, with opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz scoring a belligerent 80 off 57 balls, and they were all out for 284. Fast bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi then set the tone for them in the bowling department before Mujeeb and Rashid took over, taking three wickets each.
New Zealand vs Afghanistan head-to-head in ODIs
The two sides have faced each other only twice in ODI cricket and New Zealand won both of them. Both those matches were in World Cups, with the first game being in the 2015 tournament in Napier. New Zealand won by six wickets but the match was noted for the way Afghanistan fought. The Kiwis ended up taking 36.1 overs to chase down 187 and lost four wickets as well.
New Zealand vs Afghanistan XI
New Zealand: Devon Conway, Will Young, Rachin Ravindra, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham (c/wk), Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult
Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Azmatullah Omarzai, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman, Rashid Khan, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq