Vettori spins away Afghanistan
Veteran spinner moves past 300 ODI wickets in Kiwis’ six-wicket victory
Napier, March 8
Player of the day Daniel Vettori got 4-18 to help New Zealand on their way to a six wicket victory over Afghanistan. Daniel Vettori produced another spin-bowling masterclass as New Zealand beat Afghanistan by six wickets to tighten their grip on top spot in World Cup Pool A. Vettori took 4-18 from an outstanding 10 overs of twirl, moving past 300 one-day international wickets in the process as The Black Caps bowled out the associate nation for 186.
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum then biffed a 19-ball 42 to help the co-hosts reach their target in 36.1 overs, McCullum’s opening partner Martin Guptill (57 from 76 balls) also among the runs.
The Kiwis’ triumph was their fifth in as many matches at the World Cup but Afghanistan’s slim hopes of making the quarter-finals are now over after their fourth defeat of the group stage.
Mohammad Nabi’s side dug in at McLean Park, though, as a score in excess of 150 looked unlikely when they slipped to 6-2 and then 59-6 after winning the toss and electing to bat.
Black Caps left-armer Trent Boult (3-34) trapped Javed Ahmadi (1) lbw before Vettori bowled Afghanistan’s other opener, Usman Ghani, for a third-ball duck.
Boult’s seam accounted for Ashgar Stanikzai (9) and when Vettori spun out Nowroz Mangal (27) to reach the 300-wicket milestone – the first man from New Zealand to achieve the feat – and then sent Nabi (6) and Afsar Zazai (0) back into the shed, Afghanistan were reeling.
However, Najibullah Zadran (56) and Samiullah Shenwari (54) shared a stand of 86 for the seventh wicket – Zadran smoking two maximums and eight fours in his run-a-ball innings – as the Pool A outsiders gave themselves something to defend.
New Zealand, though, raced out of the traps thanks to McCullum and Guptill, the captain clubbing six fours and a six in scenes mildly reminiscent of his assault on England’s bowlers in Wellington two weeks ago.
The 33-year-old eventually went for one hoick too many, bottom-edging Nabi onto his stumps, but Guptill’s more measured knock, combined with cameos from Kane Williamson (33), Ross Taylor (24) and Grant Elliott (19) saw the Black Caps home with 83 balls to spare.
McCullum salutes Vettori after 300th ODI wicket
Brendon McCullum saluted “special” Daniel Vettori after the veteran spinner became the first New Zealander to pocket 300 one-day international wickets.
The 36-year-old achieved the feat while destroying Afghanistan’s top order in Napier and has now taken 12 scalps at the 2015 World Cup so far at an average of 11.33.
Vettori initially retired from ODI cricket after the 2011 World Cup but Black Caps skipper McCullum is delighted to have the Auckland-born bowler back in his ranks.
“He is a special cricketer and has been in all three forms for almost two decades,” McCullum said of Vettori, who made his New Zealand debut in a Test match versus England in 1997.
“All credit to him, not just for his drive but his ability to bounce back from injury and his hunger to play for us. To see him tick off another milestone gives immense satisfaction to not just him but all the guys.”
Vettori recorded masterful figures of 4-18 from 10 overs against Afghanistan and has a miserly economy rate of 3.00 in the competition to date.
Sky Sports pundits Mark Butcher and Rob Key watched the twirler guide his country to a fifth straight World Cup victory and believe Vettori’s bowling intelligence is key to his success.
“He doesn’t have that mystery ball but he has great control and almost knows exactly what the batsman is going to do,” said Kent captain Key.
“He is so far ahead of you as a batsman, knowing when you are going to come down the pitch and when to bowl a slide-on delivery. He’s a brilliant performer.”
Former England batsman Butcher added, “You only have to go back to the Australia game where he had a 45-yard boundary behind him and David Warner and co in full flight yet he stopped Australia in their tracks. Changes in flight are what he is so marvellous at and if there is no spin on the pitch he will change his pace and seemingly have the ball on a piece of string.”