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World Cup 2019: Five teams that should be wary of Afghanistan in the tournament

11 May 2019 CricTracker

Afghanistan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Sports has seen so many remarkable stories over the years and one of its most astounding tales comes from cricket. The incredible rise of Afghanistan Cricket Team despite the horrendous circumstances under which they grew up and practiced the game is a semblance of courage, passion and true love for the gentleman’s game.

After attaining their ODI status in 2011, they managed to take giant strides towards a bright future. They played the 2014 ICC World T20 after successfully clearing the qualifying stage and also entered the greatest cricketing tournament in 2015, managing to grab a lot of attention with a win over Bangladesh. They just never looked back in this journey and some might not even be surprised if they defeat one of the big teams.Advertisement

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With some global stars in the side like Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Shahzad, Asghar Afghan etc, they have planted a very strong squad for the 2019 World Cup. If their recent performances are any indication, this team led by Gulbadin Naib is definitely capable of beating some big teams.

Here we bring you five teams which should be wary of Afghanistan and not take them for granted:

1. Bangladesh

Bangladesh team. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Bangladesh and Afghanistan have played some amazing games in recent years and this rivalry started to intensify since the 2015 World Cup tussle, where the Tigers comprehensively defeated the new entrant. In the Asia Cup 2018, Afghanistan defeated them in the group stages whilst the Tigers emerged victorious in a more crucial encounter in Super 6s. It’s clear, both sides can beat each other on any day.

Fans of these rising nations will definitely get a cracker of a contest on 24th June in Southampton. If the tracks don’t offer much support to the likes of Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, Bangladesh will have the edge because of the experience in their batting line-up. But as it stands, most teams would bet on Gulbadin Naib and his troops to defeat the 2018 Asia cup runners up.

2. Windies

Windies players. (Photo By Sam Barnes/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

This side is probably the most capable squad Windies have managed to rope in for a World Cup in a very long time. Afghanistan and Windies excelled in the Qualifiers last year and when they came head to head, the former were pretty brutal. The aggressive youngsters in their ranks couldn’t do anything as the Afghan spinners ran riot and there’s no denying why it cannot happen again in the main tournament.

Afghanistan’s combination has not changed much since the Qualifiers last season, apart from a change in captaincy. Windies will have Andre Russell in the middle order, who has been in devastating form in recent months. Will the highly spirited Afghans work a trick to keep their big players silent again is the question of the hour, but it will be difficult for Russell to win games all by himself like he did for KKR. Hence, Naib and company once again have the edge over the Caribbean lads.

3. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka. (Photo Source: Twitter)

This is one game where Afghanistan not winning might come as a surprise. A lot of experts have already rated the Lankan World Cup squad as the weakest in over two decades. Dimuth Karunaratne, who last played an ODI match in the 2015 World Cup against England, was appointed as the captain in what turned out to be a shocking selection. They do have experience in the bowling line-up, but their overall strength doesn’t sound threatening.

Afghanistan hammered the Lankans in their previous meeting in the 2018 Asia Cup. They won the game by 91 runs with Rashid Khan and Rahmat Shah starring the show. Sri Lanka will play their first match of the campaign against Afghanistan on 4th June in Cardiff. The current form of their top players clearly suggests only one winner in this contest and it will take a huge effort from the Islanders to stop it.

4. Pakistan

Pakistan team. (Photo by Anesh Dibiky/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

This might offend a few fans, but it is a fact that Pakistan is pretty unpredictable. They are yet to lose a game against Afghanistan in any format, but they came close to losing in the Super Six encounter against them in the Asia Cup last year. If not for the experience of Shoaib Malik, the Men in Green most certainly would’ve suffered a humiliating defeat.

What makes them vulnerable again is the inconsistency of their top order. Apart from Babar Azam, no batsman in their top six has been among the runs regularly. Their bowling unit does look very promising, but Afghanistan have a good blend of power-hitters and sensible batsmen who together can endure any threat coming their way. It will be very difficult for Pakistan to lose this game, but they definitely can’t take it for granted.

5. New Zealand

Blackcaps. (Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

Inability to play quality spin bowlers will haunt the Kiwis big time. Some of their key players have not been in the greatest of form, but at the same time they haven’t been poor. A few experts say it is the silence before the storm, but Afghanistan can take advantage of the situation and the inexperience in their batting lineup while facing spinners like Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi.

Some of these pitches are expected to get on the slower side as the tournament progresses. There is a lot of cricket being played in England right now and Taunton will be hosting this encounter on June 8th. New Zealand bowlers too have not been in the greatest touch recently, especially Tim Southee. Among the five mentioned teams, Afghanistan will find it very difficult to defeat this Kiwi side the most, but if they get their plans right, there is a good chance of witnessing an upset.

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