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T20 World Cup 2024: New Zealand faces Afghanistan test, Sri Lanka takes on Bangladesh

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New Zealand will have no room for complacency when it begins its T20 World Cup campaign against a gutsy Afghanistan side full of IPL stars in a Group C fixture here on Saturday.

New Zealand finds itself in a difficult group with two-time champion West Indies and Afghanistan also vying for the the top two spots.

With rain restricting its training sessions, New Zealand’s preparation for the marquee event has been less than ideal.

Additionally, it takes on Afghanistan and West Indies in its opening two games.

Come Saturday, Kane Williamson and Co. will have to get the better of a side that is not only warmed up but has also registered a morale-boosting win and know the conditions here well.

ALSO READ | Afghanistan demolishes Uganda by 125 runs

However, New Zealand’s strength in ICC events has been its adaptability. The side always manages to turn up, reaching the latter stages. And with a wealth of experience as well as an exuberance of youth in the likes of Finn Allen and Rachin Ravindra in the side, it will be expected to get past the Afghans.

On paper, New Zealand has all bases covered- it has depth in batting and variety in bowling. Trent Boult will look to dominate with the new ball, with Lockie Ferguson and Tim Southee complementing him.

Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner has a phenomenal record in the Caribbean, averaging under 17 with the ball at an economy of 5.5 ad he will be look to outsmart the Afghans.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan secured a thumping victory over Uganda in its opener. If the opening duo of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran provided the team a great start with the bat, pacers Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq, and skipper Rashid Khan exhibited exceptional prowess with the ball.

But apart form Gurbaz and Zadran, none of the other batters manage to stick around and against a formidable Kiwi side, they will need to do better.

Teams:
New Zealand:

Kane Williamson (c), Finn Allen, Trent Boult, Michael Bracewell, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.

Afghanistan:

Rashid Khan (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Azmatullah Omarzai, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Ishaq, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Nangyal Kharoti, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Fareed Ahmad Malik. Reserves: Sediq Atal, Hazratullah Zazai, Saleem Safi.

Sri Lanka-Bangladesh renew rivalry

In Dallas, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will renew their rivalry in a bid to improve their chances to reach the Super 8.

Group D or the ‘Group of Death’ features three full members — South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh — Netherlands, which is capable of pulling off upset wins and Nepal. Margin of victories could play a vital role towards the end of the group stage.

Sri Lanka’s captain Wanindu Hasaranga walks off the field after losing his wicket during the match against South Africa.

Sri Lanka’s captain Wanindu Hasaranga walks off the field after losing his wicket during the match against South Africa.
| Photo Credit:
AP

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Sri Lanka’s captain Wanindu Hasaranga walks off the field after losing his wicket during the match against South Africa.
| Photo Credit:
AP

Sri Lanka will have to bounce back from its crushing defeat to South Africa in its opener. Its batters will be expected to show better shot selection and greater match awareness.

The bowlers did well while defending 77 against South Africa and the Islanders would fancy their chances against an out of form Bangladesh side.

Bangladesh has struggled in the shortest format this year. The Tigers have had series losses against Sri Lanka and USA. They were handed a comprehensive defeat by India in their warm up game as well.

Teams:
Sri Lanka:

Wanindu Hasaranga (c), Charith Asalanka, Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Kamindu Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Dhananjaya De Silva, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Thushara, Matheesha Pathirana, Dilshan Madushanka. Travelling Reserves: Asitha Fernando, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Janith Liyanage.

Bangladesh:

Najmul Hossain Shanto (c), Taskin Ahmed, Litton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Tanzid Hasan Tamim, Shakib Al Hasan, Tawhid Hridoy, Mahmud Ullah Riyad, Jaker Ali Anik, Tanvir Islam, Shak Mahedi Hasan, Rishad Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Shoriful Islam, Tanzim Hasan Sakib. Travelling reserves: Afif Hossain, Hasan Mahmud.

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