Afghanistan mauled New Zealand by 84 runs to grab top spot in Group C at the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup with a comprehensive all-round display at the Guyana National Stadium on Friday.

Set a challenging 160 for victory, the Black Caps crashed to 75 all out off 15.2 overs to suffer their first defeat ever to Afghanistan in T20 International cricket.

Earlier, opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz led the way for the Afghans with a 56-ball 80, stitching a 103 opening run stand with Ibrahim Zadran (44) as they posted 159/6 after being asked to bat first.

Left-arm seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi then followed his five-wicket haul in the opening match demolition of Uganda, with the first three wickets of the New Zealand innings before coming back to claim a fourth to end the match and complete figures of 4-17.

Captain and champion leg-spinner Rashid Khan shared the bowling honours with an identical haul of 4-17, including opposite number Kane Williamson with the first ball of his spell to effectively put an end to the match.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment for about three years,” said a delighted Gurbaz after receiving the Player of the Match award.

“We have the trust and belief that we can beat any team in this competition on this type or surface. At the start of the innings our target was around 130-140 and we played our part in getting there, but credit must go to the bowlers as well. To do this against a team like New Zealand…it’s unbelievable.”

New Zealand’s capitulation and obvious rustiness leaves the 2021 finalists with a tough challenge ahead, starting against hosts West Indies in at the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad next Wednesday.

“This just wasn’t good enough in terms of starting a tournament. It’s very frustrating,” admitted Williamson, reflecting on a forgettable night for New Zealand cricket.

“We have to move on quickly from this because the matches now come thick and fast for us. Yes, we have to learn from so much that went wrong without over-analysing, but we have to turn it around as quickly as we can,” he added.

Williamson’s gloomy demeanour was obviously in stark contrast to his Afghanistan counterpart Khan, who put the result in perspective.

“It is one of the greatest performances for us in T20s against a big team like New Zealand,” he said.

“And it was great team effort, from the opening stand between Gurbaz and Ibrahim to the bowlers to the effort in the field from everyone. It’s a great feeling to be leading this side.”

His own efforts with the ball were impressive but the captain preferred to focus on the impact of Farooqi, who has now taken nine wickets in his first two matches at this World Cup and had the perfect start against the Black Caps, bowling Finn Allen with the first ball of the New Zealand innings.

“He is a very skilful bowler, but there’s still lots of areas to improve,” Khan cautioned. “Once he understands how skilful he really is he will be very dangerous in the future.”