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Cricket World Cup 2023: Afghanistan face Australia in their biggest match
Afghan Cricket
Photo courtesy: UNI

Cricket World Cup 2023: Afghanistan face Australia in their biggest match

| @indiablooms | 06 Nov 2023, 02:56 pm

Mumbai/UNI: This looms as the biggest match in Afghanistan's cricket history as they take on five-time champions Australia to try and stay in the race for a place in the knockout stages of the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup at Wankhede Stadium here on Tuesday.

If Afghanistan can win their two remaining matches at the World Cup, they will qualify for the semi-finals, but their task will not be easy with a tough encounter first-up against Australia.

Afghanistan will be buoyed entering the clash following three consecutive victories that have breathed life into their campaign that started with what now looms as a costly defeat at the hands of Bangladesh in their tournament opener.

The five-time champions also made a slow start to the tournament with losses in their opening two fixtures, but have since found form to win five matches on the trot and move within striking distance of booking a place in the semifinals.

Australia's hopes of qualifying look set to be boosted with the likely availability of key players Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell after the pair missed the victory over England on Saturday, though it would leave Pat Cummins' side with a selection dilemma as they try and squeeze all their stars into the XI.

It remains to be seen whether all-rounders Marcus Stoinis and Cameron Green make way for Marsh and Maxwell, or whether one of the specialist batsmen is set for a stint on the sidelines.

Australia have class players in every department, so Afghanistan will need to be at their best if they are to push the 2015 World Cup champions.

Australia spinner Adam Zampa has been a handful for opposition batters throughout the tournament and currently has a total of 19 wickets at an average of 17.15.

While Afghanistan have their own bevy of quality spinners, whether their batsmen can handle Zampa remains to be seen as the Australian has proven a class above in India thus far.

Zampa failed to pick up a wicket during Australia's opening match at the tournament, but has since recorded a trio of four-wicket hauls and a pair of three-wicket hauls in an impressive stretch of leg-spin bowling.

While skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (282) has the most runs for Afghanistan at the tournament, Rahmanullah Gurbaz is not too far away with a total of 234 runs at an average of 33.42.

But more importantly, Gurbaz has an ominous strike rate of 99.15 and a fast start during the Powerplay will be crucial for Afghanistan if they are to trouble Australia.

Gurbaz scores quickly and, if he gets going early, is capable of putting pressure on the Australia bowlers and giving his side the ascendancy.

Squads

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith, Alex Carey, Josh Inglis, Sean Abbott, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc.

Afghanistan squad: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Abdul Rahman, Naveen ul Haq.

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