Williamson: ‘Afghanistan have one of the better bowling attacks in the T20 World Cup’

New Zealand

New Zealand will finally get their T20 World Cup 2024 campaign underway when they take on Afghanistan in Providence on Friday night, and their captain Kane Williamson is acutely aware of the threat their first opponents pose.

Afghanistan possess one of the better bowling attacks in the World Cup, and they are getting better with more experience at the top level, according to Williamson.

“Certainly a number of players in their side,” Williamson told reporters when asked if there’s anyone in the Afghanistan team they have kept their eyes on. “I mean, all of the players, to be honest, they have such a skillful team, one of the better bowling attacks, I think, in the competition.

“And we’ve seen that in franchise competitions, the involvement, the number of Afghani players. And they’re getting better and better,” Williamson said. “They’re getting more and more top-level cricket. And we saw at the last World Cup how strong they were in the ODI format too. So, a really highly skilled team and a number of threats.”

One of those threats is their star legspinner Rashid Khan, who Williamson has had the experience of playing with in the IPL – first for Sunrisers Hyderabad and then Gujarat Titans.

“Obviously, Rashid’s been around for a while now, although still a young man, but an extremely gifted world-class player,” Williamson said. “But there are a number of other players in their side throughout, really, that make them an exciting team and a real challenge.”

Williamson came into the World Cup, like several of his team-mates, on the back of the IPL. But New Zealand’s T20I captain played just two matches in the season where Titans failed to make it to the knockout stage for the first time in three years.

“Yeah. I mean, it’s just the nature of the beast. I’ve been involved in a few IPLs now and sometimes play more, sometimes play less,” Williamson said. “And the balance of overseas players has a lot to do with that. And so, from my perspective, it’s just trying to help the team as much as I can and then put quite a bit of time into some of the fitness side of things and other parts of your game.

“But when you are on the road playing a lot, you know, sometimes it’s hard to get those windows. But equally, you know, there’s cricket coming up, which is the World Cup. So, it’s trying to put time into moving your game forward because there’s so many opportunities over there.

“Obviously, playing is nice and it’s nice to have that reference point when you play and then you train. But yeah, that’s the experience I had,” Williamson said. “And some aspects were enjoyable and others were just part and parcel of what happened. But yeah, that was fun.”

Williamson also praised the decision to expand the World Cup to 20 teams.

“It’s a fantastic thing. I remember playing in World Cups when I first started and they were bigger tournaments, you know, and that sort of exposure is only beneficial for all teams,” he said. “And then you come to tournament time and anything can happen, which is the beauty of the sport, but ultimately great for the growth.”

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