by Mark Mitchener, BBC Sport
New Zealand made it five wins from five at the World Cup as a six-wicket win in Napier eliminated Afghanistan from quarter-final contention.
Veteran spinner Daniel Vettori (4-18) reduced Afghanistan to 59-6 before Samiullah Shenwari (54) and Najibullah Zadran (56) helped them to 186 all out.
Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum then hit a rapid 42 from 19 balls.
Martin Guptill made 57 as the Kiwis, already in the quarter-finals, cruised home with 13.5 overs to spare.
McCullum powered two boundaries in the first over of New Zealand’s reply and by the time his entertaining cameo was ended when he edged Mohammad Nabi onto his stumps via his pads, they were 53-1 in the sixth over and on course for victory.
Australia’s 64-run win over Sri Lanka in Sydney later on Sunday confirmed New Zealand as Pool A winners.
It looked as though the co-hosts would face a much smaller target thanks to Vettori, who was introduced as early as the third over to allow the opening bowlers to change ends and knocked over teenager Usman Ghani’s off stump with his first ball.
After seamer Trent Boult accounted for Javed Ahmadi and Asghar Stanikzai, Vettori returned for a second spell to bowl Nawroz Mangal (27) for the 36-year-old’s 300th one-day international wicket.
Vettori then struck twice in successive deliveries to have captain Nabi caught at slip and trap Afsar Zazai lbw first ball, at which point he had four wickets for five runs.
“The guys bowled really well and obviously Dan was the stand-out performer,” said McCullum.
“He is a special cricketer for what he has achieved in all three formats of the game over two decades. To see him achieve another milestone is fantastic.”
With the co-hosts firmly on top, almost their entire team were crouched around the bat for the hat-trick ball, which was safely negotiated by Najibullah.
While Shenwari dropped anchor, Najibullah took the attack to the seamers at a sweltering McLean Park before eventually slicing Adam Milne to Vettori at third man.
Shenwari, who needed treatment after being struck on the helmet by a Corey Anderson bouncer, shepherded the tail to reach his second half-century of the World Cup, while some lusty blows from Hamid Hassan helped add 20 for the last wicket.
While the Shenwari-Najibullah stand of 86 restored respectability to Afghanistan – who could point to having exceeded both England’s and Australia’s scores against New Zealand – the result never looked in doubt.
It appeared as though Guptill would see the Kiwis to victory before a mid-pitch hesitation saw him run out with 44 still needed.
McCullum added: “Credit to Afghanistan for the way they fought back and posted a score which was a bit tricky for us. But it is another World Cup win and we’re pretty happy at the moment.”