Thu, 23 May 2019

Pakistan LWWWW

In the spotlight

Barring injury, there is little doubt Rashid Khan will dominate batsman for years to come. He is the man most likely to go down as Afghanistan's first genuine superstar, a man already at the top of his field and yet he is only 20 years old. While he doesn't impart much flight on the ball, his uncanny accuracy, accompanied by a lethal googly, can outwit the most disciplined of opponents. His batting, too, has come on in leaps and bounds; he scored a whirlwind 57 off 32 balls against Bangladesh, turning a paltry 160 for 7 into the ultimately match-winning 255.

India were tremendous against Pakistan in the first 10 overs, knocking over Pakistan's much-vaunted opening pair of Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq simply by cutting off their scoring areas. Afghanistan, while pushovers in no way, don't quite have the attack to execute that plan as perfectly as India did on Wednesday, and the openers will be itching to get back to their run scoring best. The top order's contribution becomes even more vital given how devoid of match practice the middle order has been lately. Afghanistan will not have missed how brutally it was exposed against India as Pakistan slumped from 85 for 2 to 121 for 7.

Team news

Afghanistan have been forced to play back-to-back games which might test their fitness, but they're unlikely to tinker with a winning combination.

Afghanistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Ihsanullah, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4, Hashmatullah Shahidi, 5 Asghar Afghan (capt), 6 Samiullah Shenwari, 7 Mohammad Nabi, 8 Gulbadin Naib, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Aftab Alam, 11 Mujeeb Ur Rehman

Pakistan were toying with the idea of dropping Mohammad Amir for the game against India. Although he wasn't, his wicket-taking threat has been decreasing and he may finally find himself on the bench on Friday. More worryingly, Shadab Khan limped off midway through an over and is a serious doubt, which brings Pakistan's reserve spinner, Mohammad Nawaz, firmly into play.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Shoaib Malik, 5 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), 6 Asif Ali 7 Shadab Khan/ Mohammad Nawaz, 8 Faheem Ashraf, 9 Junaid Khan, 10 Hasan Ali, 11 Usman Khan

Pitch and conditions

Spin is likely to play a major part again and Afghanistan, who comfortably outgun Pakistan in this department - even if Shadab was fit - will look to strangle Pakistan the same way they did Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The heat means the winner of the toss is likely to bat first.

Stats and trivia

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