A confident Afghanistan would be up against the strong and unfazed Pakistan side in the Dubai International Stadium on Friday 29 October. This would be Pakistan's third match of the Super 12 stage which could essentially seal them a position in the semi finals of the T20 World Cup. The Babar Azam-led side have bulldozed over the strongest opposition of the group and in all likelihood, they would do the same against minnows Namibia and Scotland. And hence this is the last match of the group stage where they face a team that is well regarded in the T2o format of the game.
Not a lot of teams have the variety and the talent that is offered by the Afghan bowling unit. It houses this generation’s most influential spin bowler in Rashid Khan, someone who has been active for about 5-6 years now and still shows no signs of slowing down.
There is no doubt that Rashid Khan has the ceiling to retire as the highest wicket-taker in the history of T20 Internationals but it is astonishing how quickly he has come into the contention.
Currently, he is the fourth in the list of wicket-takers in T20Is with 99 wickets to his name, and in all likelihood will pass Tim Southee (100) in the next game.
The chart is led by Shakib Al Hasan with 117 wickets in 93 matches followed by the legendary Lasith Malinga with 107 wickets from 84 games.
And here is where it gets interesting, Rashid Khan, is being compared to bowlers of that stature having achieved his feat in just 52 games.
If you were to see off Rashid in the conditions of the UAE, you are faced with the challenge of the mystery spin of Mujeeb Ur Rahman. He outdid Rashid in the last game by picking up 5 wickets for just 20 runs. While certainly not as prolific as his SRH compatriot, Mujeeb’s variations can be tricky to face in these kinds of pitches.
When West Indies won their T20 World Cups, it was based around the system of maximising big shots. The idea was that it is okay for you to concede dot balls if you could compensate for that with your big-hitting prowess.
While their glory days are far beyond them, Afghanistan seem to have adopted that school of thought.
In their previous match against Scotland, Afghanistan conceded 43 dot balls, which is just over 7 overs worth of dot balls in T20 cricket, and they still managed to score 190 runs.
Now superimpose this with the two innings that have gone over 170 runs in the Super 12 stage and you would find the magic revealed.
In the match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the two teams scored 172 and 171 runs respectively with SL winning the game with 7 balls remaining. Both teams conceded a total of 33 dot balls, much lower than Afghanistan.
Not only did Afghanistan not score more runs than both the teams mentioned above, but they also scored more runs by not keeping the scoreboard busy.
And here’s where we arrive at our point - Afghanistan batters love to hit their big shots. They hit 11 sixes against Scotland - the highest in a single game in this tournament and they hit 11 boundaries. Barring one batsman (Rahmanullah Gurbaz) every single player had a strike rate north of 145.
So beware Pakistan, the fight is coming to you and it is coming to you hard.
Afghanistan might be trying to hit it big, but it will be difficult to do against the quicks from Pakistan. Their slowest of the three pacers Hasan Ali bowls at a nippy pace of 140ks, and their other two are quite literally amongst the fastest bowlers in the world.
It will not be easy for Afghanistan to hit these bowlers out of the park, especially in the ground like Dubai. It is a different case when you mishit in Sharjah - the ball might still land into the stands, but that is not going to happen in the big outfield of Dubai. And that is where Afghanistan batters will face their main challenge. Pakistan have played both of their matches on this ground and probably understand the conditions better. It will be a different challenge for the Afghan batters in this behemoth of a ground.
Afghanistan vs Pakistan
Match No. 24, Super 12, Group 2
Date & Time - 29 October, 7:30 PM IST (6 PM Local)
Venue - Dubai International Stadium, Dubai
Broadcast - Star Sports Network, Hotstar
The two matches that Pakistan have played in Dubai have offered contrasting openings to the match. In their first one against India, they ball nipped back into the right-handers and put the Indian top order in a lot of trouble.
It’s entirely possible that given that this is a night game, and the skill that the pace bowlers have, it will nip a little in the first two overs, but from there it will be a flat batting track.
The last two night matches in this venue have suggested that the ball is reverse swinging at the back end of the game. Against New Zealand, Shaheen Shah Afridi did it, and last night it was Mitchell Starc who seemed to have extracted quite a lot of nip as the ball got older.
So, if you win the toss, choose to bowl first.
Afghanistan have no injuries and are expected to keep the same XI. They are coming off a strong win against Scotland and will look to make it two in two against Pakistan.
Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi (c), Asghar Afghan, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Jannat, Rashid Khan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Two players suffered blows in the last game for Pakistan. One was Imad Wasim, who hurt his right knee while batting and the second was Asif Ali who was dazed by a bouncer from Tim Southee and had to take the concussion test twice in the same game.
There has been no confirmation about either of them from the Pakistan camp and there is no indication that there will be changes made in the first XI.
However, one can expect that if Asif Ali does not make it to the XI, former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed might walk into the team.
Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali/Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi
Mohammad Rizwan (vc), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Nabi, Shadab Khan, Rashid Khan, Hasan Ali, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Shaheen Shah Afridi (c)
Australia maintained their winning momentum in the group of death after defeating a high flying Sri Lanka team by 7 wickets in Dubai on Thursday 28 October. Playing a crucial game in the group of death (Group 1), Australia dominated Sri Lanka in all departments to seal a thumping win that should send a strong message to the opposition teams. The game also found David Warner back to his usual ways after experiencing a horrible patch of form for the majority of the year. Warner scored a stroke-filled 65 off 42 balls after riding his luck in the initial phase of the game. After his inside edge missed the stumps and Kusal Perera dropped a lollipop behind the stumps, it was difficult to stop the left-hander as he batted himself into form. He especially took a liking to mystery spinner Maheesh Theekshana and scored one boundary from each of his overs. This did not allow Theekshana to get into rhythm and he failed to get wickets against the Australian team. Warner found good support from his long time partner Aaron Finch, who looked in good touch as well, dominating the SL bowlers throughout his innings. He scored some brisk shots against the SL pacers and scored 37 off 23 balls. These two put up a brisk 70-run partnership inside 7 overs to make sure that Australia were in a strong position to win the game. After Warner and Finch’s departure, Steve Smith (28 off 26) and Marcus Stoinis (16 off 7) finished the game with three overs remaining. Earlier in the innings, the Sri Lankan batting order was choked by a very tight Australian bowling performance despite starting well inside the first six overs. Despite losing Pathum Nissanka early in the innings, Sri Lanka recovered well, courtesy a rebuilding act from Charith Asalanka and Kusal Perera. While Perera was mostly the submissive one in that partnership, Asalanka came out all guns blazing trying to dictate terms to the Australians. However, that was short lived as an inspired spell from Adam Zampa and Mitchell Starc put a lid on the damage and picked up four wickets in back to back overs. Zampa first dismissed Asalanka on a well timed sweep to deep mid-wicket and in the next over, an absolute ripper from Starc uprooted the stumps of Kusal Perera From there it seemed difficult for Sri Lanka to get back and they were constricted to scoring just 154 runs for the loss of six wickets in a good batting track. Adam Zampa was given man of the match award for his spell of 4-0-12-2 for his incredible middle overs exploits. With that win, Australia now are positioned at second place in their group and are among the only two teams that have remained undefeated in the group of death. Their next assignment comes against England on 30 October in Dubai. This would arguably be their toughest assignment in the tournament and a win could virtually seal them a place in the semi finals of the tournament.
The buildup If there was one evidence to suggest the struggle of West Indies in the ongoing edition of the T20 World Cup, a lethargic and spiritless innings by Lendl Simmons in the last game against South Africa was quite a damning mirror for the defending champions. The right-hander could not get going and neither he could show the courage to put his wicket on the line in search of momentum with the bat and his sluggishness severely impacted the rest of the batting lineup. Turned out, a batting lineup of such firepower could not muster more than 124 runs in 20 overs and that too when they were just one wicket down at the 10-over mark. On the contrary, when the Proteas came out to bat, first the likes of Reiza Hendricks and then Aiden Markram batted with such fluency that established the flaw was in the mind of West Indies batsmen and not in the pitch. What was ironic was that the men in maroon came into the tournament with the reputation of being a side full of big hitters who struggle to rotate the strike. Their only mode of success—hitting sixes was exposed for the lack of alternatives in the first game against England and instead of correcting one flaw, their batting order squandered their advantage as well. Now, from being one of the firm favourites to lift the trophy for a staggering this time, the defending champions are appearing to be side in decline, both in terms of ideas and execution. They are on the brink of an early exit from the tournament if their next opponent, Bangladesh can find their mojo back in the same manner they did after a hurting loss against Scotland in the qualifier stage. Also, they are not pushovers anymore and instead are a force to reckon with in the conditions the tournament is being played and where the Windies are struggling for breathing space. They have a well-rounded spin attack to extract as many as possible out of the surface and the men in maroon would not find it any easier than they have faced so far in the tournament. Contrasting ideas, both are not working If the last game against South Africa can be erased for a larger context, the Windies are a team of either glory or bust depending on the side of the bed they wake up on that particular day. They can smash a bowling attack to oblivion on one day while another day can be proved as the one like it was against England. To their counter, Bangladesh are a more reliable batting unit that doesn’t rely on swashbuckling stuffs such as outrageously long sixes. The core of their batting hinge on the experienced shoulders of the skipper Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim, and awhile all of them offer firepower with the bat, they are not as monstrous in their approach and persona with the bat to change the course of a game in a matter of few balls. They like to pace their innings and rely on taking calculative risks to reach par scores and unleash their spinners. Their ideas of batting have not been risk-proof and they have had some defeats to engulf with that approach but a series win over Australia and England give enough evidence of their depth, especially on pitches giving notable assistance to spinners. Match details West Indies vs Bangladesh Match no.: 23, Super 12 Group 1 Date and Time: October 29, 02:00 PM LOCAL, 03:30 IST Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah Pitch details The pitches at the Sharjah Cricket Ground have shown enough surprises this year. After offering nightmares for the bowlers in the last edition of the Indian Premier League, the surfaces used this year were tough on the batsmen. After slower and sluggish surfaces in the second phase of the IPL, there was a sense of anticipation about getting similar pitches in the T20 World Cup. However, the pitches in the tournament have been inconsistent in terms of their nature and if the last game between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh is anything to go by, the fans of the game should brace themselves for another six-hitting feast on a smaller ground at Sharjah. Team news West Indies Jason Holder has been added to the West Indies squad for the remainder of the tournament and straightway is most likely to find a place in the playing XI against Bangladesh. His ability to bowl cutters and experience of pacing innings against slower bowlers will give him the edge and the team a stabilising force in the middle order to arrest collapse such as the one against England. The men in maroon can also consider bringing Roston Chase back in the playing XI in place of a horribly out of form Lendl Simmons and that would also open the opening door for Chris Gayle, who has looked out of place at number three. They included Hayden Walsh Junior in the last game but the pacy option of Oshane Thoms would also look compelling for Kieron Pollard and co. considering Bangladesh’ susceptibility against raw pace. Probable XI Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Kieron Pollard (C), Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Akeal Hosein, Hayden Walsh/Oshane Thomas, Ravi Rampaul Bangladesh None of their batsmen could stand up tall to navigate an early collapse of the batting order and handed an easy win and two points to England on a platter. There is a case of picking bad among worse with both Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar outrageous out of form and the third option Shamim Hossain is yet to make a mark at the world stage in a seven-match long career. Sadly, for Bangladesh, none of those options inspires confidence and hence they will have to rely on the experienced trio. The spin trio of Shakib, Mahedi Hasan and Nasum Ahmed will have to pick themselves up from a disappointing day in the office against England if they have to help Bangladesh to their first win of the Super 12 stage. Probable XI Mohammad Naim, Liton Das/Somya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah (C), Afif Hossain, Nurul Hasan (WK), Mahedi Hasan, Shoriful Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Nasum Ahmed CE Fantasy XI Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Naim, Mahmudullah, Shimron Hetmyer, Mahedi Hasan, Dwayne Bravo, Mustafizur Rahman, Nasum Ahmed, Akeal Hosein Captain: Shakib Al Hasan Vice-captain: Evin Lewis
Indian sports couple Dinesh Kartik and Dipika Pallikal has been blessed with twin baby boys and he has taken to his Twitter account to make public the development. Karthik also made public their names “Kabir Pallikal Karthik” and “Zian Pallikal Karthik” on Thursday evening. The couple had tied the knot three years back in 2018 after dating each other for a long period of five years.
Seeking a “fresh start” in his Indian Premier League career, former Sunrisers Hyderabad captain David Warner has confirmed he will put his name in the mega auction scheduled before the next edition of the tournament. He said that the development in the recently-concluded edition was indicative of his place in the Sunrisers side and they are unlikely to retain him which is why he is seeking a fresh start. "I will put my name in the auction," he confirmed to the SEN radio station. "By the signs of the recent IPL, I won't be retained by the Sunrisers, so I'm looking forward to a fresh start." Notably, Warner was stripped of the captaincy of Sunriers midway through the 14th edition of the tournament after a string of low scores and visible signs of poor form with the bat. Warner said that the removal from captaincy was a “tough pill of swallow” for him and the reasons given to him were laughable. "It was a tough pill to swallow," Warner told a morning show on Australian radio station SEN, on Thursday. "I kind of laughed at the reasoning, that two guys were hitting the ball out of the middle a little bit better than I was. Given that when you're playing the game you're playing the scenario…," he said. However, Warner said that he accepted the change and development as a professional athlete and hence he carried on with the side on the sidelines and sometimes away from the ground as well. "Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts around there. What you have to do as a professional athlete is take it on the chin do everything you can for the team. Not being able to go there, run drinks, and be around was when it sort of hit home that it could be personal, and I'm still yet to get those answers." Warner took over the reins of the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the year 2015 and led them to the championship in the next edition defeating the Royal Challengers Bangalore. He has been an IPL legend with the bat and before the 14th edition, he piled on more than 500 runs in six consecutive seasons of the tournament.