It promises to be a blockbuster Sunday as New Zealand will take on Afghanistan in an afternoon encounter on 7th November at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The match will be one of the closely followed games in this edition of the high-voltage competition, as India's hope hinges on the outcome of this clash. If New Zealand wins, they will go through the semi-finals; however, if they fail to get over the line, it'll provide India with an opportunity to stake a claim for themselves in the final four of the competition.
The Black Caps have been one of the most consistent teams in the recent past and have been the teams to watch out for in this tournament. Barring their loss to Pakistan in their opening game, the Kiwis have produced an all-around performance and are second on the points table with six points. Kane Williamson led side will set foot at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, riding high on confidence after their resounding 52-run win against Namibia in their last encounter.
On the other hand, Afghanistan have plenty to ponder after their thumping defeat against India. The team management will hope that their premier bowler, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, will get through the fitness tests and take the field in this much-awaited clash. Despite playing a lot of white-ball series, the two sides have never locked horns in the shortest format of the game.
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The average score batting first at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi has been around the 143-run mark in this edition of the tournament. The batters have found run-scoring a bit difficult in the powerplay and scored at a run rate of 6.2 compared to 7.1 and 8.5 in the middle and the death overs.
In the 24 innings played thus far, the pace bowlers have picked up 95 wickets at an economy rate of 7 with a wicket per inning ratio of 4 compared to 40 scalps at an economy rate of 6.7 and wicket per inning ratio of 1.7 by the spinners.
One of the most destructive opening batters in the modern era, Martin Guptill, will be the key player for the Kiwis in this clash. The right-handed batter has amassed 148 runs in four innings at an average of 37 and a strike rate of 133.3. In a closely fought game against Scotland earlier in the competition, Guptill smashed 93 off 56 deliveries to propel the side to 172/5 in the first innings. In this crucial match, New Zealand will rely heavily on him to give the team a flying start in the powerplay and lay a solid foundation for the side at the top of the order.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Guptill to score 25-37 runs in this match.
On a sluggish wicket at Abu Dhabi, the onus of the Afghanistan bowling unit in the middle overs will be on Rashid Khan. The leg spinner has been the mainstay of the side and picked up seven wickets in four innings at an economy rate of 5.9. Making optimum use of the variations and the slowness of the surface, Rashid has stifled the opposition in the middle overs and picked up crucial wickets.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Rashid to pick up 1-2 wickets in this match.
The skipper of the Afghanistan side will be keen to produce an all-around show to guide the team over the line in this match. The off-spinner has a wealth of experience playing in franchise leagues across the world. While he has not been lethal with the ball in the tournament, Nabi has performed well with the bat in the middle order. The right-handed batter has 113 runs in four innings at a strike rate of 132.9 and has only been dismissed once.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Nabi to score 15-23 runs and pick up 0-1 wickets in this match.
The Black Caps will rely on their experienced new-ball bowlers, Trent Boult and Tim Southee, to pick up early wickets and dent the opposition batting unit in the powerplay. With the new ball offering swing in the initial overs, Boult will be the player to watch out for in this game. The left-arm seamer has been in sublime form in the tournament and picked up eight wickets at an economy rate of 6.3.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Boult to pick up 2-3 wickets in this match.