Dropping as many as five catches at crucial junctures and failing to read the nature of the track became their undoing, Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi said after his team’s humiliating 149-run defeat at the hands of New Zealand in a World Cup game on Wednesday.
Batting first, New Zealand scored 288/6 in 50 overs and Glenn Phillips (71) and Tom Latham (68) got reprieves at opportune moments to conjure a match-winning 144-run stand. In reply, Afghanistan were bowled out for 139 in 34.4 overs.
“Very disappointed because at this level you have to take those kind of catches. End of the day those catches hurt us as otherwise the team was doing well but the fielding let us a little bit down,” Shahidi was straight-forward in his assessment.
Afghanistan conceded 78 runs in the last six overs and it was the turning point on a track that offered a lot of turn.
“Last six overs, a lot of runs were scored by New Zealand. Before that, we dropped two catches before the 40th over and the set batters (Latham and Phillips) were there. That’s why we couldn’t stop them as everything went their way,” Shahidi said.
If five catches hurt them badly, opting to field after winning the toss was also a huge factor.
“The toss I can say…We couldn’t judge the pitch properly. I think in the first innings, the ball was spinning (turning) and was a bit slow. We bowled well but our fielding wasn’t good.”
Not being able to keep up the momentum after a win against England would have an impact, Shahidi agreed.
“Tonight’s game will hurt us but we still have more games to come. Next match is against Pakistan. We will go back and discuss where we can improve and will try to come back stronger.”
New Zealand skipper Latham said that his team is on the right track.
“I guess on the back of some good performances, we are stepping in the right way. We have a week or so (4 days) and then we will play India (October 22) and then Australia (October 28), we are hoping to continue the momentum,” stand-in skipper Latham said.
Latham was happy that he and Phillips could take the game deep with their 144-run stand.
“We were put under pressure at certain times but putting pressure back on them at the end of the innings was great. I think at that time we lost three wickets in a short span of time, we tried to get a partnership there…took it nice and deep,” he said.
The dropped catches did help, Latham admitted.
“There were a few chances here and there I guess. We tried to capitalise on those chances. Glenn played a fantastic innings, took pressure off me. The guys set the tone at the top in the first 10 overs and kept chipping in.”
Man of the match Phillips praised Mark Chapman and Mitchell Santner, who gave the final push making 34 runs in the final 2.5 overs.
“It was great how we were able to take it till the end and I think we understood what we could possibly get in the last 10 overs. It was amazing how Chapman and Santner finished it. I thought 250 was par.
“We are in an environment where we keep working for each other and play as a team. Latham was really good towards the end,” Phillips said.
-With the PTI input.