The 36th match of the 2019 Cricket World Cup will witness an all-Asian clash between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Men in Green are currently sixth in the table, and in contention of a semi-final spot. In contrast, Afghanistan are at the bottom with no wins befalling them. Who is going to come up trumps?
This is going to be an exciting clash of two attacks who are beginning to come into their own late into the tournament. The likes of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz have asked plenty of questions from the opposition batsmen.
Pakistan are the epitome of unpredictability and one can never count them out as they have a knack of fighting back when cornered.
Afghanistan has had a below par tournament. The closest they came to winning was against the number ranked ODI team, India which shows they are capable of giving a fight to the very best.
Pakistan (Probable XI): Imam ul Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Sarfaraz Ahmed (C&WK), Asif Ali, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi, Shahdab Khan, Mohammad Amir.
Afghanistan (Probable XI): Gulbadin Naib (C), Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shinwari, Najibullah Zadran, Ikram Ali Khil (wk), Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Mohammad Amir vs. Mohammad Nabi
Mohammad Amir was a child prodigy and was considered the heir apparent to the bowling legacy of Wasim Akram. His skill set and pace was unheard of for someone his age.
After a great start to his international career, he was involved in the misfortunate spot-fixing scandal. But, after coming back from the spot-fixing ban, he has slowly and steadily come into his own. He has had a tremendous world cup. He has taken 16 wickets in the World Cup with his best being 5-30 against Australia strong batting line up. He currently sits second in the list of highest wicket takers at this tournament.
He is a big match player and is known for upping his game by a notch in big games. He has taken 75 wickets in 55 matches with a strike rate of 36.6 in ODIs.
Nabi is the original superstar of Afghanistan cricket. His all round ability is second to none. He has played for various franchisees across the globe and has been a consistent performer over the years. The Logar born lad has played the most matches for Afghanistan in One Day internationals. Ranked 3rd in the ICC ODI All-rounder rankings, he has scored 2695 runs and has 125 scalps in 119 matches so far in his career.
Nabi is one of the shining lights for Afghanistan in an otherwise dismal campaign. He single handedly took Afghanistan on the brink of victory against the World Number one ranked side India.
This is the battle of the two most inform players of their respective teams and their performance will dictate the fate of the match.
Babar Azam vs. Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Babar Azam is hands down the most talented batsman in Pakistan’s line up as witnessed by the fact that he just became the fastest to score 3000 in One day internationals surpassing the likes of Viv Richards and Virat Kohli. He has scored 333 runs at an average of 66.60 in the 2019 World Cup. He also scored a match winning unbeaten hundred against New Zealand in his previous match.
The 24 years old is ranked eighth in the ICC ODI batsmen rankings. He has scored 2971 runs at an astounding average of 51.22 in 69 One day internationals.
Mujeeb has a plethora of difficult-to-decipher variations which brings a mysterious element to his bowling. He takes the new ball for his team and more often than not is successful in squeezing the run flow and taking crucial wickets.
The 18 years old is the youngest player in the tournament but has shown that he is more than capable of handling the pressure of the big stage. He has taken 56 wickets in 35 matches with a strike rate of 33.09 in his ODI career so far.
Mujeeb takes the new ball for his team and the onus will be on him to take the opening wicket and bring out the Pakistan’s number three as early into the middle as possible.
Headingley, Leeds witnessed a major upset earlier in the tournament with Sri Lanka defeating everyone’s favorite England. Given Pakistan’s unpredictability, we may just witness an encore.
Afghanistan is beginning to show their fighting spirit once more and Pakistan would have to be on their toes to avert a major upset. This result is very important for Pakistan’s semi-final chances and they can’t afford a slip.
Pakistan has a better arsenal of fast bowlers which may just give them an edge. We at Cricwizz predict a Pakistan victory over their fellow neighbors.