AFG vs PAK, 1st T20I: Preview, Pitch Report, Probable XIs, Fantasy Tips & Prediction
Pakistan and Afghanistan share a fierce on-field rivalry [Source: Twitter]
On Friday, hosts Afghanistan will take on Pakistan in the first T20I of the three-match series at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium. With both teams studded with outright match-winners, we anticipate a fascinating start to the high-voltage series.
Team Preview: Afghanistan
Led by Rashid Khan, Afghanistan have a formidable lineup comprising some T20 superstars. While Rashid will spearhead the spin bowling attack alongside Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi, their pace bowling looks equally competent with the presence of Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq and Fareed Malik.
On the batting front, Afghanistan have a rock-solid opening combination made of the dynamic Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran. The middle order also looks power-packed, consisting of Usman Ghani, Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib and Mohammad Nabi.
All in all, the Afghans can give Pakistan a run for their money, and it won't be surprising if they get the better of the men in green in the series opener.
Team Preview: Pakistan
On the other hand, Pakistan will field a comparatively young team led by Shadab Khan. With their several mainstays- Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf- absent, the onus will be on the young guns to ensure a winning start for their team.
Meanwhile, to focus will be on Imad Wasim, who made a T20I comeback following his astounding performance in the recently concluded PSL. Iftikhar Ahmed, who blew hot and cold for his franchise Quetta Gladiators, will be keen to regain his mojo in the series.
However, despite missing Afridi and Rauf, Pakistan's pace battery, comprising Ihsanullah, Naseem Shah and Mohammad Wasim Jr, looks threatening. It will also be interesting to see their final playing XI, as they will have plenty of quality options to choose from.
Date & Time: March 24, 09.30 PM IST
Venue: Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah
Live Streaming: FanCode
Pitch Report: The surface in Sharjah has traditionally been favourable to batters and spinners. The track has even bounce, and with the small boundary dimensions, we might see batters feast at the venue. However, it will also offer reasonable assistance to the spinners throughout the day. As it's an evening game, the toss-winner will likely opt to field first.
Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Ibrahim Zadran, Usman Ghani, Karim Janat, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan (C), Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Fareed Ahmed Malik/Naveen-ul-Haq
Pakistan: Abdullah Shafique, Shan Masood, Mohammad Haris, Iftikhar Ahmed, Azam Khan (WK), Shadab Khan (C), Mohammad Nawaz/Imad Wasim, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Naseem Shah, Usama Mir, Ihsanullah
Cricket Exchange Fantasy Tips
Wicket-Keepers: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Mohammad Haris
Batters: Iftikhar Ahmed, Najibullah Zadran, Ibrahim Zadran
All-Rounders: Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz
Bowlers: Mohammad Wasim Jr, Usama Mir, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Rashid Khan
Captain: Shadab Khan
Vice-Captain: Rahmanullah Gurbaz
For in-depth fantasy analysis, click here.
Considering the lineups, we expect a nail-biting encounter on Friday night. However, with the quality in their squad, Afghanistan might just edge past Pakistan in this face-off.