Hashmattullah's half century helps lift Afghanistan to 172
TAUNTON, England (AP) — Hashmattullah Shahidi slogged Lockie Ferguson for a boundary down the ground to raise his half century as he helped lift Afghanistan to 172 in 41.1 overs in a stop-start innings against New Zealand at the Cricket World Cup.
Afghanistan made a blazing start after being sent in on Somerset's County Ground to reach 66-0 in the 11th over Saturday before the innings derailed as New Zealand snared four wickets for four runs in 20 balls.
Hazratullah Zazai (34) and Noor Ali Zadran (31) plundered the opening bowlers with some unorthodox shot-making, taking 12 from the first over and producing Afghanistan's best opening stand at a World Cup before New Zealand's change bowlers hit back hard.
Jimmy Neesham made the initial breakthrough, the first of his five wickets, having Zazai caught slicing out to Colin Munro at deep backward point to end an entertaining 28-ball innings that contained five boundaries and a giant six into the pavilion.
Noor Ali gloved a short ball from Ferguson down leg for a simple wicketkeeper's catch two balls later.
Rahmat Shah (0) and skipper Gulbadin Naib (4) both fell to Neesham as Afghanistan slumped to 70-4, with Naib wrongly opting to review his dismissal after feathering a catch behind as he swiped at a wide ball.
The first of two rain delays interrupted play after 20 overs with the Afghans on 84-4. Neesham nabbed two more middle-order wickets before and after the second rain interruption and finished with 5-31 from 10 overs.
Hashmattullah, who went to the crease at the fall of the second wicket, worked with the lower order to add valuable runs and was the last man out for 59. The last three wickets combined for 42 runs and frustrated the New Zealand attack on the small ground in Taunton.
Hashmattullah's eighth ODI half-century came off 84 balls and his wicket gave Ferguson, who bowled three consecutive maidens to stymie the Afghan middle order, figures of 4-37.
Afghanistan is coming off losses to defending champion Australia and Sri Lanka and had to make three changes, including the injury-enforced replacement of opener and wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad.
New Zealand, the runner-up in 2015, opened with wins over Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and retained the same XI for a third consecutive game.