Vettori takes 300th wicket as NZ beats Afghanista

NAPIER, New Zealand, March 8: Daniel Vettori passed 300 wickets in one-day internationals as New Zealand cruised to a six-wicket win over Afghanistan in their Cricket World Cup match on Sunday.

Afghanistan was bowled out for 186 — the fourth time in five matches that New Zealand has kept an opponent under 200 runs — and the hosts passed that total with 13.5 overs to spare.

The 36-year-old left-arm spinner Vettori needed two wickets to reach 300 and started ideally by bowling Usman Ghani with his first delivery.

Vettori (4-18) reached the milestone when he bowled Nawroz Mangal for 27. He then dismissed Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi (6) and wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai (0) with consecutive deliveries as Afghanistan slumped to 59-6.

Trent Boult supported Vettori, taking 3-34 and joining teammate Tim Southee as the leading wicket-taker at this World Cup with 13 dismissals. Vettori is third with 12 as New Zealand bowlers occupy the first three placings on the wicket-taking list.

Afghanistan was playing its third match in a week in which it has traveled almost 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) — from Dunedin to Perth and then to Napier — and was coming off a 275-run loss to Australia.

The frayed confidence from that game was evident as it lost opener Javed Ahmadi, lbw to Boult, to only the ninth ball of its innings and Ghani five balls later which it was 6-2. Boult then dismissed Asghar Stanikzai (9) and Vettori´s quick three wickets put Afghanistan at strong risk of a sub-100 score.

But Samiullah Shenwari, Afghanistan´s most consistent batsman, combined in an 86-run partnership with the eighth man in, Najibullah Zadran, to halt the decline.

Shenwari played the disciplined sheet-anchor role as Najibullah went for his shots, lacing seven fours and two sixes. He was finally out for 56 off as many balls.

Corey Anderson hit Shenwari in the back of the helmet which a bouncer. He was momentarily stunned and later called for medical assistance but continued undeterred. His was the ninth wicket to fall, having made 54 off 110 balls.

New Zealand´s batting lineup made what is becoming a trademark barnstorming start. Brendon McCullum made 42 from just 19 balls in a 53-run opening partnership with Martin Guptill, who top-scored with 57.

McCullum hit six fours and a six off Mohammad Nabi, but was bowled next ball.

Guptill and Kane Williamson (33) put on 58 for the second wicket before Williamson was caught by Shenwari from the bowling of Shapoor Zadran. Guptill went on to his first half century at the tournament from 69 balls before being run out by Shenwari´s throw.

Grant Elliott (19) was also run out but Ross Taylor (24) and Corey Anderson (7) steered New Zealand to 188-4.