The ICC U19 Cricket World Cup was going so well for New Zealand. The tournament hosts had chalked up three wins from three in Group A, sailing through to the Super League quarter-finals, and were considered among the favourites to lift the trophy.
Then New Zealand came up against Afghanistan – the surprise package of the tournament so far.
Having posted a commanding total of 309/6, with half-centuries from Rahmanullah Gurbaz (69), Ibrahim Zadran (68), Bahir Shah (67*) and Azmatullah Omarzai (66 from 23 balls), Afghanistan's spinners set to work.
The hosts were skittled for just 107 in 28.1 overs, falling to their worst-ever defeat at U19 level, and it was Afghanistan's spin twins, 16-year-old Mujeeb Zadran (8.1-3-14-4) and 17-year-old Qais Ahmad (9-0-33-4), who did the vast majority of the damage, turning the ball both ways at will to bamboozle the Kiwi batsmen.
In the following video, Black Caps international Grant Elliott, in conversation with HD Ackerman, analyses the skills of the Afghan spinners and draws on his own experiences while discussing the difficulty of picking the carrom ball – a delivery which Mujeeb exploited to devastating effect.
Afghanistan's spinners will be hoping for similar results when they take on Australia in the first Super League semi-final at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on 29 January.