‘Williamson will struggle against Rashid despite IPL’

TAUNTON, England: New Zealand captain Kane Williamson will struggle to read Indian Premier League (IPL) team-mate Rashid Khan in Saturday’s World Cup match, Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib predicted on Friday. Though not a great turner of the ball, Rashid’s guile and accuracy make him a limited-overs asset especially sought after by Twenty20 franchises across the cricketing world. Williamson has spent two seasons sharing the Sunrisers Hyderabad dressing room with the wily 20-year-old and Naib has no doubt Afghanistan’s bowling talisman will prevail over the Kiwi batting mainstay at Taunton.

“Rashid is not like the other bowlers,” Naib told reporters, conceding the Afghan players themselves are clueless even after numerous net sessions with the leg-spinner. “I think it’s not only for Kane, also it is difficult for our players too. It’s difficult for our batsmen and we’re playing against him in the nets.” Rashid bowls a mean googly but it is his ability to bowl quickly through the air that hurries the batsmen. “He is very different, quick and fast. He doesn’t give you time to pick him. So it’s very difficult,” Naib added. Afghanistan batsmen will have their own challenges against a formidable New Zealand pace attack including Matt Henry, who currently leads the wicket-takers’ list, and Trent Boult, the current number two ODI bowler.

Naib said they would try to play the “Afghan way” to bounce back from losses in their first two matches when they face the 2015 finalists. “We will play our natural game, just go for who we are and why we’re here,” he said. “It’s important we don’t look for the names (in the New Zealand team), just play the ball. “They have plenty of experience in the New Zealand side — Trent Boult and other guys. But we look forward to playing our natural game and playing the Afghan way. Hopefully we do the best we can.” — Reuters