ICC World Cup 2019: Afghanistan vs Australia - Rashid Khan vs David Warner headlines the top 5 player battles
“I can’t remember a group of players who have had so much laughter, and that’s a really good sign for me,” Australian coach Justin Langer said before his side take on Afghanistan.
On paper, Australia are overwhelming favourites, the batsmen are in form, their bowling attack has all the bases covered, and there is never any doubt with their fielding. However, no cricket match is won on paper and this is where, Afghanistan come in.
They have the flair, they have the spinners, and the belief which could make them a tricky proposition for Australia. It will all boil down to the different battles and here, we take a look at five critical player battles from the match.
Rashid Khan vs David Warner
Mates when they play for Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rashid and Warner will face-off for the first time in an international match and this promises to be an intriguing affair.
If the recent trend is anything to go by, opposition sides have decided to wait and play out Rashid, but with Warner, defence will never be an option which is what makes this contest the most interesting battle in this match.
Mujeeb ur Rahman vs Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been in rollicking form - he has peeled off 329 runs in five innings during Australia’s warm-up matches against New Zealand, West Indies and England.
However, he will be up against Mujeeb, another ace in Afghanistan’s cabinet. Although, the former Australian skipper is a good player against spin, the threat of Mujeeb and his variations might pose a threat.
Mitchell Starc vs Mohammad Shahzad
For Afghanistan, Mohammad Shahzad is their X-factor in the batting order and he has already signalled his intent in this tournament in the warm-up games. However, he will have to face Mitchell Starc, who is back at his best.
Shahzad will have to counter the movement and the pace and look to remain unscathed in the powerplay overs.
Pat Cummins vs Mohammad Nabi
Mohammad Nabi is the rock in this Afghanistan team, both with the bat and ball. He walks out in the middle order and then finishes off games for the side.
However, his biggest threat will be Pat Cummins, as he takes the ball in the middle overs and more often then not, is among the wickets. This tussle between Nabi and Cummins is one which could define who takes the important middle phase.
Hamid Hassan vs Glenn Maxwell
Afghanistan’s pace attack has been bolstered with the addition of Hamid Hassan and now they would hope, the seasoned campaigner makes an impact on the proceedings.
He will be up against Glenn Maxwell and the Afghan captain would hope his pace ace takes care of the middle-order batsman before he settles down.