HEADINGLEY, England – Pakistan, with their new found confidence stemming from back-to-back wins, will look to put on another clinical performance against Afghanistan to keep themselves in contention for a spot in their semi-finals.
No other team can quite demonstrate the game’s unpredictable nature like Pakistan can. Their recent surge in form, with back-to-back wins against South Africa and New Zealand, has brought about interesting prospects in the final leg of the league stage at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019. They have bounced back strongly from their initial setbacks, much like they did in 1992, and now find themselves in a position identical to the one during their victorious campaign 27 years ago.
While Mohammad Amir has been a consistent performer with the ball, Babar Azam’s match-winning innings at Edgbaston comes as a huge positive for the Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side. A win against Afghanistan on Saturday will keep them well and truly in the semi-final race, as the competition stiffens.
Afghanistan, much like West Indies, have shown flashes of brilliance for brief moments in almost each of their matches, but are yet to put on a complete match performance, which keeps them deprived of their first win in this tournament. While the bowlers put on a strong performance in their last two games against India and Bangladesh, lack of partnerships with the bat cost them on both occasions.
The Gulbadin Naib-led side will look to seek confidence from their warm-up fixture against Pakistan, where they had emerged victorious by three wickets.
Haris Sohail (Pakistan): The aggressive left-hander has probably been the source of much needed inspiration for Pakistan with his game changing contributions in the last two games. Haris Sohail, who scored 89 and 68 in his last two outings, will eye another match-winning contribution on Saturday.
Mujeebur Rahman (Afghanistan): The 18-year old has been posing a lot of problems for the top-order batsmen in the last few matches. Mujeeb, whose spell of 2/33 almost got Afghanistan over the line in the Asia Cup fixture against Pakistan last year, will look to produce his best to power his side their first win of the tournament.
It will be a dry and sunny day with some gentle south-easterly winds. Dryness might bring the spinners into play on a hot at humid day at Headingley. Both teams will look to bat first as batting is expected to get difficult as the day progresses.
Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c, wk), Asif Ali, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Imam-ul-Haq, Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz, Haris Sohail, Imad Wasim, Fakhar Zaman
Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (c), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah (wk), Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Ikram Ali Khil. –ICC