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T20 World Cup: Pakistan will play 3rd match against Afghanistan today

T20 World Cup: Pakistan will play 3rd match against Afghanistan today
October 29, 2021 Web Desk

DUBAI – Afghanistan will challenge Pakistan for the top spot on the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Group 2 table.

Pakistan are unbeaten, with a perfect two in two record. Afghanistan, meanwhile, demolished Scotland in their opening game to give themselves a considerable net run rate boost and sit just under their neighbours on the points table.

Both teams are familiar with these conditions in the UAE and have made the most of it. Both have stood out so far for their positive approach to building the innings with the bat, with both sets of openers in excellent touch. Both bowling attacks too have been incisive, forcing the opposition to collapse. Both teams play with a lot of pride, but they also tend to be unpredictable.

So when they meet in Dubai, something will have to give, for someone. 

The teams are unfamiliar with each other in the T20 format. This will be only the second time they meet, with their previous encounter back in 2013. Both sets of stars will be dipping into their experience from playing with and against the others in leagues around the world.

Pakistan are higher ranked, but remain wary of the Afghan threat.

"When they go for batting, they just play, the way they feel it, what's in their heart, what they think," said Pakistan coach Saqlain Mushtaq. "They just go and execute the plan. They just play sort of a fearless cricket. And I think that kind of team can be dangerous."

When the teams met at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, emotions ran high. Rashid Khan had a plea for fans to simply "support a good side". "At the end of the day, this game gives lots of unity to the nations and brings nations together," he said. "So I hope they remain cool and calm and just focus on enjoying the game. Who plays better on the day, that team wins."

Fixture details

The match: Afghanistan v Pakistan, Match 24.

Time: 18:00 local time, Friday 29 October 2021.

Venue: Dubai International Stadium.

The teams

Pakistan are high on confidence. Coach Mushtaq hailed the clarity with which the players are going about their business, and urged them to maintain that mindset to take on the Afghan spin threat. They are unlikely to make changes.

Probable XI: Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (capt), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf.

Afghanistan are a team that go hard at the bowling, and try to clear the ropes. That approach might need to be tempered in Dubai, where the boundaries are quite big. With the team doing well, they might not tinker with a winning combination.

Probable XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi (capt), Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Rashid Khan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

Key players

Mujeeb Ur Rahman: The young Afghanistan spinner picked up five wickets to rip through Scotland's challenge. With his bag full of variations and an element of mystery, he is a handful in the Powerplay.

Shaheeh Shah Afridi: Pakistan's new ball bowler is a phenomenon. He has been devastating with swing and pace and his yorkers. His efforts against Afghanistan's openers, who constantly look to go big, will be crucial.

Captaincy Pick - Rashid Khan

Rashid Khan is not a player fazed by any opposition, so he comes into this match as a strong pick for captaincy. He has a phenomenal record in the format, having bagged 99 wickets in 52 T20Is at an impressive strike rate of 11.8. In 4 T20Is played in 2021, the leg-break bowler has a strike rate of 7.4 and has conceded just under 7 runs per over, which makes him the top captaincy pick for the match.

Must-have - Shaheen Afridi

The left-arm pacer is proving to be unstoppable at the moment with his genuine wicket-taking ability and raw pace. Shaheen Afridi could prove to be a tough challenge to navigate for Afghanistan batters. His record in UAE bodes more danger for Pakistan’s opponents, as he picks a wicket every 12 balls in these conditions in T20Is.

Ladder situation

If Pakistan wins, they will consolidate their place at the top of the table with three wins in three and be in a strong position to progress to the semi-final.

If Afghanistan wins, they too will be undefeated and will top the table based on their net run rate.

What they said

Rashid Khan, Afghanistan bowler: "We have only this thing that we're here for the World Cup and we're playing five games and we need to win three games. And that is the theme we have in the mind as a whole team ... You can only do what is in your hands, and that is in our hand to play the five games of this group stage and try to qualify to the semifinals and make the country proud."

Saqlain Mushtaq, Pakistan coach: "The Sharjah pitch, it is slow and low. It's not easy to score big runs. But I think Dubai is slightly better. You need to execute your plan in a different way. You have to be technically quite strong, and you should know that what your scoring areas are and how to go about it on the day, how you're feeling it. The boys are quite clear. They've been playing in these conditions for quite some time, like in PSL."-ICC