Tuesday May 30, 2023

Naib aims to end disappointing campaign on winning note: Pakistan set to conquer Afghanistan at Headingley

June 29, 2019

LEEDS: When Pakistan crashed to a stunning three-wicket defeat against Afghanistan in a warm-up game on May 24 in Bristol, their World Cup preparations seemed to be in tatters.

Less than five weeks later, things look completely different as the two teams clash in the World Cup here at a sun-baked Headingley on Saturday.

While Afghanistan have crashed out of the World Cup after suffering seven losses in a row, Pakistan have regained killer form just in the nick of time. After knocking South Africa out of the tournament and handing New Zealand their first defeat of World Cup 2019, Pakistan are firm favourites to hand Afghanistan their eighth successive defeat in the event.

With the batting duo of Babar Azam and Haris Sohail in full flow and the bowling attack looking good, Pakistan should have an easy sailing against the Afghans, who look low on confidence.

A win against them would temporarily propel the Pakistanis to the fourth place on the points table. It would be a big boost for Sarfraz Ahmed and Co, who were looking completely down and out after back-to-back losses against Australia and India.

The toss would be quite important as both teams would want to bat first on a wicket that is expected to become more bowling friendly in the later stages of the match. Pakistan are expected to retain the same eleven even though questions are being asked about the utility of Mohammad Hafeez in the middle-order.

Meanwhile on the eve of their World Cup game against Pakistan at Headingley, Afghanistan captain Naib conceded that Afghanistan did learn most of their cricket in their neighboring country Pakistan and they will try to end the World Cup campaign on winning note.

In the lead up to the World Cup, Afghanistan were touted as the dark horse of the tournament. But their run has been disappointing. The Afghans are out of the race for semi-final qualification after failing to win any of their seven World Cup games. Afghanistan haven’t really lived up to expectations but Pakistan aren’t taking anything for granted.

Teams (likely): Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi

Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (capt), Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.