Cricket World Cup: Blackcaps determined not to become latest underdog victim against Afghanistan

Adapting to sub-continental pitches and success with the ball in the middle overs are key to continuing Blackcaps' winning momentum at the Cricket World Cup, their captain Tom Latham said ahead of Wednesday's clash with Afghanistan in Chennai.

Latham replaced Kane Williamson as NZ skipper after the latter fractured his thumb in Friday's eight-wicket win over Bangladesh, which makes him doubtful for the remainder of the group stage of the tournament.

"For us it's about trying to adapt to each surface as best we can," Latham said on Tuesday.

"Some surfaces may be different to others and they may change throughout a 50-over innings... if we do that I think that gives us a good chance.

"I think it's always the challenge in white-ball cricket, how to stay aggressive through the middle stages when things don't tend to happen as quickly... we've always tried to be proactive and always looking to take wickets in some way."

Rashid Khan of Afghanistan celebrates the wicket of Mark Wood of England.
Rashid Khan of Afghanistan celebrates the wicket of Mark Wood of England. Photo credit: Getty Images

New Zealand are playing an Afghanistan side fresh off a 69-run victory over defending champions England on Sunday, with their first win over a test-playing nation at a World Cup providing a welcome boost after losing their first two matches.

That result combined with the Netherlands' upset over South Africa has kept the tier-one nations on their toes, but Latham says it will have no impact on the way his team prepares for Wednesday's match.

"We've spoken throughout this tournament that every game that we play is worth two points and every game is just as important as the next," he noted. 

"We'll be preparing exactly the same as we have the last three games. Afghanistan had a fantastic win a few nights ago and played a fantastic game of cricket and they'll be flying high with confidence.

"I'm sure they're probably looking to do the same to us tomorrow."  

While they're wary of the potential banana peel against the Afghans

Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi said Chennai was a familiar venue for the sixth-placed team.

"India was our home for two to three years... in this ground we had our preparation camp for the 2019 World Cup," Shahidi added.

"We spent 40 days here... the conditions are the same as in Afghanistan. That gives us extra advantage."

Shahidi said Afghanistan needed to avoid middle order collapse if they wanted to build on their shock win over England.

"(Losing) back-to-back wickets puts pressure (on us) and that's happening with us for the last three games," he said. "We have to take responsibility as players, everyone in the middle order."


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