Eyeing a third win in a row, New Zealand will start as clear favourites against Afghanistan when the two sides meet in the 13th match of the ICC World Cup 2019 at the County Ground Taunton on Saturday. Kane Williamson's side is at the top of the World Cup 2019 Points Table after successive wins against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.Watch ICC World Cup 2019 Poinbts Table here
The Black Caps cruised to a 10-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in their opening game, but had to toil hard for a two-wicket victory against Bangladesh on Wednesday at The Oval in London. On the other hand, Gulbadin Naib's Afghanistan received an early jolt after their opening batsman and wicket-keeper Mohammad Shahzad was ruled out of the World Cup due to a knee injury. The batsman has been replaced in the squad by 18-year-old Ikram Ali Khil but it remains to be seen how the youngster perform in the big league.
Afghanistan received a seven-wicket thrashing at the hands of Australia in Bristol before they were skittled out for 152 inside 33 overs chasing a victory target of 202 against Sri Lanka in Cardiff.
For the Kiwis, veteran Ross Taylor's form will be a huge boost but Williamson will want his other batsmen to arrest the slide they encountered against Bangladesh while chasing a modest 245 for victory.
At one point, New Zealand were coasting to the total at 160/3 but a sudden collapse left them on the brink before Mitchell Santner and Lockie Ferguson took them over the line.
For the Afghans, Mohammad Nabi took four wickets while star spinner Rashid Khan scalped two as they bowled out Sri Lanka for 201. But it was their batting that let them down with none of the batters able to make a mark.
While Afghanistan's spin trio of Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman have had a decent time so far, the team's batsmen will have to shoulder respnsibility as they are yet to register a win.