New Zealand captain Kane Williamson heaped praise on pacers James Neesham and Lockie Ferguson following a comprehensive win over Afghanistan and said their role will be crucial in the tougher battles that await the team in the World Cup.
Neesham took a career-best five for 31 while Ferguson bagged four wickets as New Zealand bowled out Afghanistan for 172 here on Saturday. Williamson led from the front in the chase with an unbeaten 79 off 99 balls, firing his team to a resounding win in 32.1 overs.
"I wish I could claim some of the credit. Jimmy (Neesham) bowled beautifully. It was a different surface that perhaps suited him a little bit more someone who runs in and hit the wicket hard. We saw that the guys from both sides who did that got a bit of bounce and movement out of it," he said.
"He bowled some beautiful deliveries and broke a crucial partnership at the top. He deserves all credit he'll get for a five-for, which is outstanding. We know how talented Afghanistan are and I know it first-hand from guys I've played with. They're very savvy, very cagey in how they operate and so it was a really good performance from us."
Talking about the role of Neesham and Ferguson going forward in the tournament, he said: "Those two guys (Ferguson and Neesham) have been crucial in very different roles for us. We've seen examples of both thriving in last three games.
"When Jimmy is bowling well, he can get good pace out of the surface. They complement each other along with the other bowlers in the attack."
Against Bangladesh last time out, New Zealand were cruising in their chase of 245 but a middle-order collapse ensured some late-night drama before a nervy two-wicket triumph.
Losing Martin Guptill to the first ball of the innings against Afghanistan could have sparked similar events but Williamson's unbeaten effort and Ross Taylor's 48 paced a much more comfortable seven-wicket victory.
That's now three successful chases in three World Cup games and the skipper is confident the Black Caps are heading in the right direction.
"The nature of having chased three times means that it's been a little bit different each time and we've had to adapt to chase the total down clinically each time," said Williamson.
"This game was an improvement on the last game, which is main thing. Every day you turn up, you have different opposition at a different ground it's about adapting to what is in front of you. It was nice to build a couple of partnerships that's important when you're chasing. With the three mid-level totals we've been chasing, you want to get a bit of stability going into later overs," he added.