Afghan 'Match-Winner' Gurbaz Aims to Shock New Zealand


Afghan ‘Match-Winner’ Gurbaz Aims to Shock New Zealand

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Hashmatullah Shahidi, Afghanistan’s captain, has lauded the explosive batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz as a potential World Cup game-changer as they aim to topple New Zealand. Their recent victory over England, fueled by Gurbaz’s incredible 57-ball 80, has sparked optimism in the Afghan camp. Gurbaz’s aggressive approach, marked by eight boundaries and four sixes, set the stage for their triumphant victory. Partnered with fellow opener Ibrahim Zadran, the duo delivered a 114-run partnership.

Shahidi expressed his confidence in Gurbaz’s ability to influence matches, referring to him as a “matchwinner.” He believes that when Gurbaz excels, it elevates the team’s performance as a whole. However, there was a downside to Gurbaz’s fiery passion, as he was reprimanded for his outburst after being run-out, aggressively smashing his bat against the boundary rope during the match.

The International Cricket Council issued a statement noting that Gurbaz had violated the code regarding the “abuse of cricket equipment or clothing, ground equipment or fixtures and fittings during an international match.”

Afghanistan’s triumph against England marked a historic moment, ending a 14-match losing streak at World Cups. Shahidi emphasized the significance of this win against the defending champions, expressing the team’s unwavering belief in their abilities.

Despite losses to Bangladesh and India, Afghanistan’s win in New Delhi was a significant morale boost. Shahidi also commended all-rounder Mujeeb Ur Rahman for his crucial role in the victory. Mujeeb’s performance with both bat and ball earned him the Man of the Match award.

Afghanistan’s unique situation of playing international cricket primarily in the UAE and India due to security concerns has, surprisingly, become an advantage. Shahidi attributed this advantage to their familiarity with Indian grounds, as they had a preparation camp in Chennai ahead of the 2019 World Cup.

The captain also acknowledged the positive impact of head coach Jonathan Trott, a former England batsman, who emphasizes discipline and hard work. As they prepare to face New Zealand, Afghanistan looks to reverse their history of ODI losses against the Kiwis at the 2015 and 2019 World Cups.


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