2019 Cricket World Cup: Three and easy as New Zealand maintain perfect start 
Kane Williamson (right) and Tom Latham walk off Taunton's picturesque ground after seeing their side through to another victory. 

2019 Cricket World Cup: Three and easy as New Zealand maintain perfect start 

Black Caps respond to underwhelming Bangladesh victory in perfect fashion. 

matt-rennie
Matt Rennie

New Zealand eased to a seven-wicket win over Afghanistan at Taunton on Saturday to remain unbeaten at the Cricket World Cup.

The Black Caps were looking to respond after an underwhelming win against Bangladesh last time out and duly delivered, with Jimmy Neesham the star man when registering his maiden ODI five-wicket haul.

Kane Williamson asked Afghanistan to bat first in the South-West, and found the Kiwi's bowling attack too hot to handle, with Neesham dismantling their top order. 

Gulbadin Naib's side were bowled out for 172, with Hashmatullah Shahidi top-scoring with 59.

It was routine work for New Zealand, who saw the total off with ease in just 32.1 overs to remain at the top of the World Cup Table. 

Neesham the star as Afghanistan implode 

It looked to be a fairly routine start for the hosts, with Hazratullah Zaizai (34) and Noor Ali Zadran (31) putting on 61 before Zaizai was caught at point off the bowling of Neesham in the 11th over. 

The wicket sparked a calamitous collapse from the Afghan middle order, losing four wickets for four runs in just 20 balls. 

Neesham, recording his best-ever figures for the Kiwis, removed Rahmat Shah for a duck, before Naib (4), Mohammed Nabi (9) and Najibullah Zadran (4) were all caught behind by Tom Latham off the Auckland-born paceman. 

Afghanistan starlet Rashid Khan (0) followed soon after a Lockie Ferguson bouncer struck him in the helmet, before the ball ricocheted onto the stumps - leaving Khan visibly groggy in the process. 

Shahidi offered some resistance when bringing up his half-century off 84 balls, but was the last man to fall for Aghanistan, who mustered up a meagre 172 at the County Ground. 

A shaky start but New Zealand ease to success 

The run-chase couldn't have started any worse for the Black Caps, with opener Martin Guptill dismissed for a golden duck off the bowling of Aftab Alam (3-45). 

Alam's fine opening spell continued when he claimed the scalp of Colin Munro in the eighth over, leaving New Zealand nervy of instigating another batting collapse. 

But Williamson (79) produced a fine captain's knock alongside Kiwi veteran Ross Taylor (48) to steer their side to the target, and Latham (13) came to the crease to guide New Zealand to a smooth success. 

The victory erased any memories of the disappointing win against Bangladesh and made it from three wins from three games at this year's competition. 

Meanwhile, Afghanistan remain winless in the competition and rooted to the bottom of the table. 

Next up for New Zealand is a trip to Trent Bridge to face India next Thursday, while Afghanistan have a week's break before facing South Africa in a must-win match at Cardiff. 

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