Pakistan team would be hoping to secure two valuable points by registering a win against Afghanistan in their next match of the ICC World Cup 2019 at Headingley with rejuvenated hopes of making it to the semifinals.
However, Afghanistan may spoil Pakistan’s plans after they showed against India what they are capable of.
Pakistan have 7 points in the same number of matches in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 points tally and they need to win both their remaining matches (against Afghanistan and Bangladesh) in order to qualify for the semi-finals, given that the results from other matches go in their favour.
Afghanistan, meanwhile, have nothing to lose. They have lost all their matches so far and are out of the competition. Yet, a win against a top-rated side would give them a lot of positives to take from the competition. Without the fear of failure, Afghanistan may just be able to play their best cricket.
Notably, Afghanistan had beaten Pakistan by three wickets in a warm-up match ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and that would give them the belief that they could do it all over again.
The pitch is expected to remain dry which might suit the spinners and whenever spinners have bowled well in the tournament, Afghanistan have looked a far better side. Captain winning the toss might look to bat first as batting second may become relatively tougher.
For Pakistan, Haris Sohail has been in great form and he would be relied upon to assume a major role for the team. Babar Azam will also be another key player for Pakistan having already scored a hundred in the tournament.
For Afghanistan, skipper Gulbadin Naib’s role with the bat, Rashid Khan with the ball and Mohammad Nabi’s all-round performance would be the key if they need to register a win here and make their presence felt on the points tally.
Afghanistan had promised at least a few wins in the competition but one issue after the other, both on and off the field has not let them focus on their game and that has clearly reflected in their performance.
Pakistan’s chances of a semi-final seem brighter after a win against New Zealand. Their campaign’s eerie similarity with the 1992 World Cup campaign is going viral but all of that will have to wait when Pakistan play Afghanistan and Bangladesh – the two teams which did not feature in the 1992 edition World Cup.
It should not be forgotten too that Pakistan-Afghanistan rivalry is much more intense and fierce than just a cricketing one.
The two teams meet at the Headingley Stadium, Leeds. Action begins from 3 pm (IST) onwards.
Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c/wk), Asif Ali, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Imam-ul-Haq, Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz, Haris Sohail, Imad Wasim, Fakhar Zaman
Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (c), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah (wk), Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Ikram Ali Khil