New Zealand remains the class team of the Cricket World Cup, winning its fifth consecutive match following a six-wicket victory on Sunday over a travel-weary Afghanistan.
Daniel Vettori passed 300 wickets in one-day internationals in the New Zealand victory. Afghanistan was bowled out for 186 — the fourth time in five matches that New Zealand has kept an opponent under 200 runs.
The 36-year-old left-arm spinner Vettori needed two wickets to reach 300.
“In any form of the game you can play well and not take wickets and vice-versa,” Vettori said. “(I was) just trying to fulfil that role of being as economical as possible and the wickets came today.”
The whole New Zealand lineup has been impressive, having already clinched a quarterfinal place and looking good for a first-place finish in Pool A, guaranteeing it a more favorable draw when the final eight teams are determined.
There were some major perks for New Zealand as co-host. It has played every one of its matches in New Zealand, giving it six “home” pool games, including its last preliminary match against Bangladesh next Friday in Hamilton, and will have traveled only 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) for its six games.
The New Zealanders have already been guaranteed a home quarterfinal in Wellington on March 21.
Afghanistan, meanwhile, has traveled more than any team in pool play — 14,870 kilometers (9,180 miles). But 10,000 of those kilometers (6,200 miles) came in the last week when Afghanistan, after beating Scotland in Dunedin, New Zealand, flew to Perth, Western Australia — five time zones away — to be beaten by a record margin by Australia, then flew back to New Zealand to play Sunday’s match in Napier.
“It’s true to say we are bit weary,” Afghanistan’s English coach Andy Moles said before the match. “We’ve tried to put a positive spin on it. The guys have seen a new part of the world, so for their development as human beings it’s been a good thing.”
The Australia team has traveled the second-furthest in pool play — 13,363 kilometers (8,250 miles), and wasn’t as fortunate as its other co-host when the schedule-makers went to work. Australia’s only “road” match in the pool stage was in Auckland to play New Zealand, where it lost by one wicket, but Australia still had to travel across four time zones in eight days for three games.
The Australians, trying to ensure they’ll finish second in Pool A behind New Zealand, won the toss and then put up a commanding 376 for nine against Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the other match Sunday.
Steve Smith (72) and skipper Michael Clarke (68) led the recovery after Australia slipped to 41-2 in a 134-run third-wicket stand to lift the total to 175 before both fell within five balls.
That’s when the fireworks started, with Glenn Maxwell belting 102 from 53 balls — narrowly missing a tournament record for fastest hundred — in a 160-run stand with Shane Watson, who was out in the penultimate over for 67.
In Monday’s only match, it’s make-or-break time for England in its match against Bangladesh, which could advance to the quarterfinals at England’s expense with a win.
The English have been beaten by Australia (by 111 runs), New Zealand (eight wickets) and Sri Lanka (nine wickets) with just a win over second-tier Scotland.
England coach Peter Moores sounded like he was questioning his team’s ability to adapt quick after some upheaval.
“International cricket is played by tough men and there’s no compromise in that,” Moores said Sunday. “When people come into that environment, sometimes they have to get used to it. There is pressure in the World Cup and there is certainly pressure on us as a team because we haven’t played as well as we would have liked to have done.”
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza is approaching the match from a different perspective, with his lineup believing it is on the verge of advancing to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time.
“If we can win this match, it will be a great memory for everyone involved with this team,” Mortaza said.
This article was written by Dennis Passa from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.