Afghanistan To Face Australia In World Cup Match

Afghanistan’s National Cricket Team will face Australia in their first 2019 World Cup Cricket match in Bristol, England, on Saturday. 

The match will kick off at 5pm Kabul time.

Below is a review of the International Cricket Council from the ICC website about Afghanistan’s experience, abilities, key factors, strengths and weaknesses.

Despite only one previous Cricket World Cup appearance and relative inexperience against top-level opposition, Afghanistan will go into this tournament knowing that they are capable of toppling the best of sides.

Sitting at No.10 in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI rankings, they are the lowest ranked team in the tournament. This will not dismay them however, as they boast a roster of short-format global icons, and an impressive warmup game victory against Pakistan was a timely way to outline their intentions before the campaign begins.

They won just once in their previous outing at cricket’s flagship tournament, against Scotland, but the side’s meteoric rise since achieving Full Membership in 2017 has captured the imagination of cricket fans worldwide. Qualifying for the tournament-proper via success in the 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, Afghanistan have quickly established themselves as a force in world cricket, their success encapsulated by their outstanding, exuberant supporters whose contributions are almost as impactful and colourful as their beloved nation’s performances.

With MRF Tyres No.3 ranked bowler (and No.2 ranked all-rounder) Rashid Khan at their disposal, and No.3 ranked all-rounder and veteran Mohammad Nabi in their ranks, there is enough star-power in this Afghanistan side to suggest that some of the more established sides in this tournament will have real reason to fear an upset. A recent change in captains from Asghar Afghan to Gulbadin Naib was unexpected and seemed to be temporarily disruptive, but the camp is settled now, and there is a genuine excitement surrounding the outfit as we approach their first match against Australia on 1 June.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Afghanistan’s power has oft-been, and still clearly is, the spin-trident of Rashid, Nabi, and 18-year old Mujeeb ur Rahman that has provided them with so much success. 20-year old Rashid has lit up franchise cricket across the world and rapidly become one of the most consistent performers in the world game, possessing a bowling average of 15.33, while Mujeeb matched Rashid for wickets in the Cricket World Cup Qualifier, both topping the bowling charts with 17 scalps apiece.

Drawing the best out of their esteemed tweakers will be key, but amassing formidable team scores will certainly be the area of concern. Openers Mohammad Shahzad and Hazratullah Zazai have exhibited some promising form in recent matches, but Afghanistan need their top order to fire, as a high-scoring tournament on fruitful English tracks awaits, and more proven batting orders in the other sides will likely be cashing in with hefty totals.

Key Player

Mohammad Nabi: While Rashid has been rightly the poster-boy for Afghanistan with his ability turn the ball both ways and dupe the best in the business, it is the guile, experience and all-round excellence of Nabi that could prove crucial once the tournament wears on. The 34-year old continues to produce high-level performances with both bat and ball, having been central to his side’s prosperity since his 2009 debut, and his immense cricketing abilities, combined with his guidance of younger teammates, will be priceless in the moments of extreme tournament pressure.

X factor

Rashid Khan: Rashid has to take the gong for this one, as the world awaits his appearance on the biggest stage with genuine anticipation. His lust for wickets, eye-catching celebrations and genuine world-class bowling skills have given him cult-status across global T20 leagues and amongst the Afghanistan fans, and his iconic status will only be furthered should he produce the goods for Afghanistan this summer.

Tournament History

Afghanistan lost five of their six matches in their only previous Cricket World Cup appearance in 2015, their solitary win coming against Scotland, a tight affair in which they prevailed by one wicket.

Recent form 

W W L W NR L W L NR W

Fixtures

1 June: v Australia, County Ground, Bristol

4 June: v Sri Lanka, Cardiff Wales Stadium, Cardiff

8 June: v New Zealand, County Ground, Taunton

15 June: v South Africa, Cardiff Wales Stadium, Cardiff

18 June: v England, Old Trafford, Manchester

22 June: v India, Hampshire Bowl, Southampton

24 June: v Bangladesh, Hampshire Bowl, Southampton

29 June: v Pakistan, Headingley, Leeds

4 July: v West Indies, Headingley, Leeds

Squad: Gulbadin Naib (capt), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb ur Rahman.

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