ICC World Cup 2019: Match 36, Pakistan vs Afghanistan, Preview – Men in Green aim to put forward strongest leg in semis with a victory
The uncanny resemblance from the 1992 World Cup is keeping Pakistan relevant and alive this edition.
Updated - Feb 7, 2020 7:12 pm
Not a very long time ago, Pakistan and Afghanistan met in a warmup encounter which went the Afghan way eventually. Hashmatullah Shahidi’s fighting knock helped Gulbadin Naib and co kick off their World Cup dream on a stellar note, but their world seemed to have turned upside down once the main tournament kickstarted.
They lost all of their seven games thus far and came close to winning only on one occasion against India. Pakistan, on the other hand, began their tournament with a horrendous defeat in the hands of West Indies. But their campaign seems rejuvenated with a couple of big wins against South Africa and New Zealand and to add to it, the uncanny 1992 resemblance is keeping their hopes alive.
One team fights for pride whilst the other is fighting to wear the great crown for the second time. The Afghans will be playing fearlessly and are more than capable of causing a major upset. While the sequence of results from the 1992 campaign predicts a win for Pakistan, the exact reason why that couldn’t happen is their unpredictability.
The 1992 champions are not expected to make any changes. Haris Sohail and Babar Azam’s exploits in the previous innings has given their batting lineup a major boost and Mohammad Hafeez too has been in decent touch. Shadab Khan is beginning to enjoy England with the tracks slowing up and Imad Wasim too is turning more lethal. Shaheen Afridi found some form in the previous game and their fast bowling unit looks ever more dangerous right now.
Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed (c & wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Shah Afridi
Sayed Shirzad could straight away come into the XI to replace Dawlat Zadran, who hasn’t been very impressive this tournament. Hashmatullah Shahidi and Rahmat Shah chipped in with some good scores but have not been able to accelerate scoring at will. Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman will be crucial for this fixture to not leak runs in the first half of the innings. Najibullah Zadran could bat a little up the order for this game.
Gulbadin Naib (c), Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shinwari, Najibullah Zadran, Ikram Ali Khil (wk), Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran/Sayed Shirzad, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Focus will be on
Haris Sohail (Pakistan)
Shoaib Malik was turning out to be a chink in the Pakistani armour, but Haris Sohail’s outstanding run has ticked that elusive box in the middle order for their side. Now they look stronger in every department and if the 30-year-old can contribute with the ball as well, he could be a huge asset for the men in green.
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
He has been under tremendous pressure this tournament especially after the hammering against England. Rashid Khan has failed to stamp his authority on this tournament and with two games remaining, although he has nothing to play for, he could retreat some pride back with some strong performances.
Head to head
Matches played – 3 | Pakistan won – 3 | Afghanistan – 0 | No result – 0
437 – Javed Miandad’s 437-run tally in 1992 is the highest for a Pakistani batsman in a single World Cup edition, Babar Azam currently has 334 runs to his name and is chasing the great man’s long-standing record.
TV – Star Sports
Match Timings – 15:00 IST; 10:30 local