Top four in Pakistan’s sights
This is a match that Pakistan should and most-likely will win against a pretty beaten-up Afghanistan. Headingley could potentially be the venue that gets Pakistan into the top four in the 2019 ICC World Cup. If the men in green complete all the formalities, they’ll find themselves inside the semi-finals qualifications for the very-first time in the tournament. That dosen’t necessarily guarantee them a spot in the World Cup semi’s, however it puts pressure on England who are looking a bit shaken-up after consecutive-defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia.
The task is simple – beat Afghanistan, enter top four. Pakistan should feel comfortable knowing that their opponents have lost seven-straight games in this year’s World Cup, but at the same time there’s that little voice in your head saying “what if we lose to the winless team sitting bottom of the table?” Complacency is laughable, there’s no assured results when it comes to a World Cup, not even against Afghanistan. It does however make it a lot easier when Shaheen Afridi is bagging 3/28 off his full quota of overs and Babar Azam is smashing unbeaten centuries, 101 not out to be exact. That was the case against the-then undefeated Black Caps who were looking imposing, only to stumble moments after receiving high praise. The in-form Haris Sohail has added more depth to this Pakistani batting line-up since his inclusion, scores of 89 & 68 in his past two games are proof of that. Babar Azam has been building on what has been a steady-campaign at No. 3, his recent century against New Zealand may have sparked him off. Opener Fakhar Zaman has also been far from his best, he’s scored just one fifty in six games and needs to elevate his output.
Despite possessing a talented group of spinners, Afghanistan aren’t expected to trouble Pakistan a whole lot given their spin-friendly conditions in the subcontinent. Expected to lead Afghanistan from the front with the ball in this year’s World Cup, Rashid Khan hasn’t been the X factor everyone was expecting. He’s been almost pushed aside in terms of the big names in the tournament, his 4 wickets from seven matches isn’t an accurate-reflection of his talent. On a positive note (if there even is one), Mujeeb Ur Rahman and skipper Gulbadin Naib have been brilliant in the past 2-3 matches for Afghanistan. The batting isn’t a strong point, however Gulbadin has produced some handy little-cameos at the top and continues to bag wickets with the ball. The World Cup-minnows may struggle against the Pakistani quick’s, Mohammad Amir has been sensational all tournament with 16 wickets to his name and Shaheen Afridi’s recent performance against New Zealand could also spell trouble for the underdogs.
Top 5 fantasy picks – Afghanistan
- Gulbadin Naib
- Mujeeb Ur Rahman
- Mohammad Nabi
- Samiullah Shinwari
- Rashid Khan
Wildcard pick – Rahmat Shah
Top 5 fantasy picks – Pakistan
- Mohammad Amir
- Babar Azam
- Wahab Riaz
- Fakhar Zaman
- Shadab Khan
Wildcard pick – Imad Wasim
Predicted Team XI’s
Afghanistan (possible) – 1. Gulbadin Naib (c) 2. Rahmat Shah 3. Hashmatullah Shahidi 4. Asghar Afghan 5. Mohammad Nabi 6. Samiullah Shinwari 7. Najibullah Zadran 8. Ikram Alikhil (wk) 9. Rashid Khan 10. Dawlat Zadran/Hamid Hassan 11. Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Pakistan (possible) – 1. Imam-ul-Haq 2. Fakhar Zaman 3. Babar Azam 4. Mohammad Hafeez 5. Haris Sohail 6. Sarfaraz Ahmed (c & wk) 7. Imad Wasim 8. Wahab Riaz 9. Shadab Khan 10. Mohammad Amir 11. Shaheen Afridi.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.