Pakistan vs Afghanistan: Preview and Prediction
Both teams will be desperate to get back to winning ways, but the desperation will be much more in the Pakistan camp.
After starting their journey with two wins, they had to suffer two consecutive defeats. With four points in as many matches, they are now placed fifth in the standings.
On the other hand, Afghanistan is placed ninth with just one win from four games, but they will not be too disappointed with their performances.
Hashmatullah Shahidi’s team was not among those considered in the semi-final reckoning and they have already made memories for a lifetime by beating defending champions England and will try to punch above their weights once again.
What have they done so far?
Pakistan had a good start to their campaign as they defeated the Netherlands by 81 runs in their first match. After scoring 286 runs, they bowled the Dutch out for only 205. In their second match, they defeated Sri Lanka in superb style, as they chased down a huge total of 344 runs while losing only 4 wickets.
But since then, nothing has worked out in favour of Babar Azam’s team. They had an embarrassing 7-wicket defeat against India in their third game, which saw them getting bowled out for only 191 runs. In their last fixture, Pakistan suffered a 62-run loss at the hands of Australia.
On the flip side, Afghanistan started their journey with two back-to-back defeats. Getting bundled out for 156, they lost to Bangladesh by 6 wickets, while India handed them an 8-wicket defeat in their second match.
But the miracle happened in their third match, against England in Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium. Having scored 284 runs while batting first, the Afghans bowled England out for just 215 runs to register a memorable 69-run win. Having said that, they were handed a 149-run thrashing by New Zealand in their last game.
Head to Head Record
There is no competition between the two teams at all when it comes to head-to-head records. Afghanistan and Pakistan have met on seven occasions in ODI cricket, with the green shirts emerging victoriously on all of those occasions.
The last meeting, which took place in Sri Lanka’s Colombo only two months ago, saw Pakistan getting a 59-run win. They scored 268/8 while batting first, before bowling Afghanistan out for 209 runs. Shadab Khan picked up three wickets.
Mohammad Rizwan (Pakistan): Pakistan find themselves in a spot of bother ahead of this math, with many of their trusted batters like skipper Babar and finisher Iftikhar Ahmed misfiring.
The only glimmer of hope in their batting order currently is wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan. He is leading the run-scoring table for his team with 294 runs in 4 games, which came at an average of 98 and a strike rate of nearly 100.
Rizwan scored 68 runs against Netherlands, before playing a match-winning knock of unbeaten 131 runs in the record-breaking chase against Sri Lanka. Though his team lost to India and Australia, Rizwan batted well in both games, scoring 49 and 46 runs respectively.
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan): Unlike Pakistan, Afghanistan’s trump card Rashid Khan has been reliable so far in this tournament. He is currently his team’s highest wicket-taker, having taken 6 wickets in 4 matches, at an average of 30.83 and an economy rate of just over 5.
After a poor start against Bangladesh, the leg-spinner made a solid comeback by taking 2 wickets against India. He then had an even better outing against England, where he got a three-wicket haul, while Rashid took one wicket in the last match against New Zealand.
Pakistan: Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam ©, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf.
Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan/Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi ©, Azmatullah Omarzai, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi.
Just because the match will be played on a spin-friendly track in Chennai, Afghanistan might have a slight edge because while they have an excellent spin pairing in Rashid and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, all of Pakistan’s spinners are struggling.
But even then, the green shirts have more quality in their squad while the Afghan batters have not been in good form. Hence, Babar’s side will start this game as favourites.