By Niall Anderson in Taunton

If Bangladesh truly did expose a significant Black Caps weakness in their clash at The Oval, then Afghanistan may be well poised to take advantage of it.

The Black Caps lost six wickets to spin in their two-wicket win on Thursday, and now have to face a side whose strength lies in their spin bowling options.

While nobody expects Afghanistan to be able to beat the Black Caps at Taunton tomorrow – it would be one of the biggest upsets in Cricket World Cup history if they did – their spin trio of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman are genuine threats to at least test the Black Caps batsmen.


So, although it's unlikely to impact upon the likely result, another glimpse of how the Black Caps fare against spin bowling could be extremely insightful, especially with the deadly Indian duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav awaiting in Nottingham next week.

Ask Black Caps head coach Gary Stead about any potential problems against spin though, and he puts the rash of the wickets against Bangladesh down to poor decisions, rather than technical deficiencies.

"It's hard to put too much focus on it, because out of the [47] overs we faced, [28] were spin, and we expect that when we face these Asian sides in particular. We've played spin well in the past and I think the pressure of the moment the other night made for some poor decisions. But we've certainly done our homework on Rashid and Mujeeb and Nabi – those guys who are definitely going to be a force for Afghanistan."

Of the 13 wickets Afghanistan have taken in their first two games, eight were claimed by spinners, including a scintillating spell from Nabi as Sri Lanka capitulated from 144-1 to 159-6 in their eventual 34-run victory in Cardiff.

Their biggest threat is undoubtedly Rashid, a 20-year-old sensation who has taken the Twenty20 leagues by storm. His international stats – although somewhat inflated by playing weaker opposition – are absurd, averaging 15.5 with the ball in ODIs, at an economy rate of 3.9.

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson is one player who will need no introduction to Rashid's talents, having played with him the last three seasons with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League.

However, Afghanistan captain Gulbardin Naib believes that may not necessarily be an advantage when it comes to facing Rashid out in the middle.

"Rashid is not like other bowlers – he's been with the national side the last four years, and still nobody knows how he bowls in the nets – it's very difficult to pick him. I hope he [will be at] his best."

Kane Williamson and Rashid Khan will go head to head. Photos / Getty and Photosport
Kane Williamson and Rashid Khan will go head to head. Photos / Getty and Photosport

Despite the spinning talents at his disposal, Naib isn't outlining a specific plan to try and expose the same issues that Bangladesh created.

"Nothing planned for New Zealand. We just have to look for the conditions and the ground and also the surface. So we look for the turn for tomorrow."

He might be out of luck, with a brief look at the wicket revealing a greener surface than would be suited to spinners, before steady rain saw the covers come out.

The weather is meant to be fine tomorrow though, and with Stead expecting a wicket with good pace in it, the Black Caps' seam attack might once again usurp the spinners, and have the final say.

The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':