James Neesham grabbed his maiden five-wicket haul before Kane Williamson played a captain's knock to guide New Zealand to a seven-wicket victory over Afghanistan here, their third straight victory in the World Cup.
Batting all-rounder Neesham (5/31), who produced acareer-best effort, and fellow pacer Lockie Ferguson (4/37) ripped through theAfghanistan batting line-up to bowl them out for a below-par 172 here onSaturday.
Williamson then fired New Zealand to a resounding victory in32.1 overs with an unbeaten 79 off 99 balls and was well supported by RossTaylor, who made 48 off 52.
It was smooth sailing for New Zealand in the run chase afterthe early loss of openers Martin Guptill (0) and Colin Munro (22).
The Black Caps' task got easier as Afghanistan's premierspinner Rashid Khan did not come out to bowl after being hit on the head by asharp Ferguson bouncer while batting. However, Rashid is expected to be fit forhis team's next game.
Afghanistan, who have lost all their three games, next faceSouth Africa on June 15.
"It was an outstanding effort. There are someworld-class players in the Afghan side. I have played with a number of them fora few years," said Williamson.
"They got off to a good start and it was important tobuild some pressure in the middle-overs, and the way the seamers came back inthe middle-overs was fantastic – pace, bounce and a bit of movement did it forthem," he added.
Sent into bat, Afghanistan made a decent start with openersHazratullah Zazai (34 off 28) and Noor Ali Zadran (31 off 38) putting on 66runs between them. Hazratullah hit three fours in the first over bowled byMatthew Henry to show his intent.
But New Zealand hit back when Neesham induced a mistimedslog from Hazratullah with Colin Munro taking the catch on the boundary to endthe opener's innings in the 11th over.
Afghanistan wickets then began to fall in a heap once theopeners were separated and their batsmen failed to rotate strikes.
Hashmatullah Shahidi, who top-scored with 59 off 99 balls,played a lone hand as he did not get any support from his team-mates down theorder. He was the last man out as Afghanistan's innings folded up in 41.1overs.
As many as seven Afghanistan batsmen scored in singledigits.Neesham had his second wicket in the form ofone-down Rahmat Shah (0) in the 13th over and then dismissed captain GulbadinNaib (4) before returning to grab two more wickets — Mohammad Nabi (9) andNajibullah Zadran (4) — in the 24th over to complete his five-wicket haul.