by Rex Clementine

Afghanistan are the most improved team in cricket. In ICC events in recent years, they have not only come up with some giant killing performances, but they have nearly made it to the knock-out stages as well.

During last year’s 50 over World Cup, they nearly staged an upset over eventual champions before Glenn Maxwell rescued the Aussies snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. It is in T-20 cricket that Afghanistan are even more deadly and this could be their time to make an impact in the world stage.

Afghanistan have always had good spin bowlers. Their spin provides variety as well with Rashid Khan (leg-spin), Noor Amad (chinaman) and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman (off-spin) capable of containing sides.

It is their left-arm quicks – Fareed Ahmad and Fazalhaq Farooqi who are exciting to watch.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz is just 22 but he’s got much experience at his hand as he’s highly sought after in franchise cricket. Ibrahim Zadran has been a sensation in ODI cricket and it’s only time before he makes an impact in T-20s.

They have got some world class all-rounders as well. Mohamad Nabi has been around for a while but it is young Azmatullah Omarzai, who is the man to watch. He bowls at a decent pace and is capable of power hitting. He is another Jacques Kallis in the making.

New Zealand have been very consistent in ICC events regularly making it to the semis. Silverware for the Kiwis have been few and rare but they will fancy their chances. First up, they’ve got to qualify for the second round and early points are vital.

Kane Williamson has been a fabulous leader of his country and he is one of the top-notch batters in the world.

South African born wicketkeeper Devon Conway has been an impact player and so is Finn Allen.

No body has the all-round options that New Zealand have and that’s why they are such a good unit in T-20 cricket. James Neesham, Daryl Mitchell  and Rachin Ravindra are all match winners.

New Zealand’s strongest discipline is their fast bowling. Trent Boult and Tim Southee have been there for a while and provide experience while Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry with their pace make the Kiwis a strong outfit.

A mouthwatering contest is on the cards on Friday.