New Zealand have started their World Cup 2019 campaign with back-to-back wins, first thrashing Sri Lanka by 10 wickets and then overcoming Bangladesh with a close two-wicket win at The Oval. Afghanistan, on the other hand, have lost two in two - having being bowled out for 207 against Australia first and then slipping to 152 all-out against the Lankans.
The Afghans have been dealt a further blow as Mohammad Shahzad has been ruled out of the World Cup after aggravating his knee injury, which he suffered during the warm-up game with Pakistan. They are still in search for their first World Cup win over a Full Member side, as their only win in World Cups came against Scotland in 2015. However, things will be tough against a superior Black Caps side.
Hamid Hassan, Mohammad Nabi, Asghar Afghan/Ikram Ali Khil, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib (c), Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Rashid Khan, Hazratullah Zazai, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson
With Shahzad injured, there is a dilemma over who will keep the wickets for Afghanistan in this game. The safest option, then, is to go in with Latham. The Kiwi player has played 87 ODIs to date, scoring runs at an average of 33.26 with four hundreds to his name.
Martin Guptill, Najibullah Zadran, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor
Guptill hit an unbeaten 51-ball 73 in New Zealand's opening game of the tournament, and blasted 25 off 14 in the game against Bangladesh. Colin Munro was asked to open the innings in the two games, and he finished with 58 and 24 respectively. The fact that Afghanistan’s bowlers are not as experienced, might allow the left-hander to play his natural attacking game, and if he can do that successfully, he can get a big score. Ross Taylor top-scored with a measured 82 against Bangladesh, which was his ninth ODI fifty since 2018. He has climbed to the third position in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Rankings for batsmen. These three Kiwi batters bat up the order, and if any of them get going and stay till the end, a healthy score in the Fantasy team is guaranteed.
Zadran has been Afghanistan’s top batsman so far, scoring 51 against Australia and 43 against the Lankans. He particularly impressed with his skills against Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa, and if he can get his eye in, he will be a dangerous batter to dismiss.
Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, James Neesham
All-rounders are always the most sought options in Fantasy teams, as they can earn points with both bat and ball. Nabi stalled the run flow against Sri Lanka last time, claiming 4 for 30, which were also his best ODI figures. The off-spinner has emerged as one of the most talented players from the country. With a batting average of 28.68 to go with his bowling average of 31.39, Nabi has been a consistent performer, and can get points regularly in either department in Fantasy. Naib got two starts in the two games - getting 31 against the Aussies and 23 against the Lankans, and he will be looking to build on to it against a formidable Kiwi side.
Neesham can be the X-factor in the side. While a batting strike rate of over 104 promises quick runs, he's also capable in providing crucial breakthroughs with his medium pace.
Matt Henry, Rashid Khan, Trent Boult
Rashid Khan is a must-pick in any Fantasy team. He has time and again proved his class in various T20 leagues in the world. He returned with figures of 2 for 17 against the Lankans. Despite of conditions which might not be very helpful for spin bowling, Rashid has the ability to produce wicket-taking deliveries at any stage of the game.
Trent Boult and Matt Henry have combined 10 wickets between them in two games, with the latter leading the charts with seven to his name already. The fact that Afghanistan’s batting unit is inconsistent, further increases their chances of being among the wickets, which in turn means more points.
Best Bet: Martin Guptill, Trent Boult
Alternatives: Ross Taylor, Mohammad Nabi