Afghanistan meet Namibian challenge in Abu Dhabi
After their historic Super 12 victory over Scotland, Namibia face an Afghanistan side looking to bounce back after defeat to Pakistan.
In the first ever T20I meeting between the two sides, Namibia are ready to face a spin examination, with Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman hitting the ground running in early Group 2 action.
Following a crushing victory over Scotland to begin their T20 World Cup campaign, Afghanistan were overrun by Pakistan, toppled by a late-over blitz by Asif Ali.
In the aftermath of the defeat, the experienced Asghar Afghan called time on his international career, and will make way at the conclusion of tonight’s match.
Namibia’s middle order have shown an aptitude against spin in their campaign, though it’s fair to say that this may be their toughest test yet. Led by Rashid Khan, the fastest player to 100 T20I wickets, Afghanistan will show no mercy with their attack, as Mujeeb and Mohammad Nabi provide little respite.
For Namibia, their attack will ask new questions of an Afghan batting line-up, with no less than four left-arm bowling options. Alongside Ruben Trumpelmann, the Player of the Match in their win over Scotland, JJ Smit and Jan Frylinck provide pace options, with the left-arm orthodox of Bernard Scholtz the spin threat on Gerhard Erasmus’ side.
- The Match: Afghanistan v Namibia
- Time: 14:00 Sunday 31 October
- Venue: Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Afghanistan are unlikely to make wholesale changes even after their defeat, though the big question is if Asghar Afghan will get the chance to bow out after his retirement.
Afghanistan Possible XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Shahzad, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Asghar Afghan, Karim Janat, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi (c), Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Namibia’s top order may shuffle against Afghanistan, with only one quick in Naveen-Ul-Haq likely. With match-ups in mind, a right-hand/left-hand combination of Craig Williams and Michael van Lingen may be preferred, though ‘keeper Zane Green may also be entrusted at the top.
Possible Namibia XI: Craig Williams, Michael van Lingen, Gerhard Erasmus (c), David Wiese, JJ Smit, Zane Green, Jan Frylinck, Nicol Loftie-Eaton, Ruben Trumpelmann, Pikky Ya France, Bernard Scholtz
Unsurprisingly, Rashid Khan poses the biggest threat to their Namibian opposition.
The fastest to 100 T20I wickets by matches played, the leg-spinner is yet to be properly countered by anyone across the world, and may chime in with some late hitting at the back end of Afghanistan’s innings.
Underlined by back-to-back boundaries against Sri Lanka star Wanindu Hasaranga in the First Round among solid innings throughout the tournament, Erasmus is arguably the best player of spin in the Namibian outfit.
A key through the middle overs for the Eagles, Erasmus may find himself involved early should the attack get the better of his teammates above him in the order, forced to rebuild through a mix of touch and power.
After a defeat to Pakistan, Afghanistan will feel this is a must-win to keep in touch with semi-final spots. Namibia, while strong winners over Scotland to begin their Super 12 campaign, will be targeting this match-up as one they’ll need to win, given the strength across the group.
What they said
Namibia’s Craig Williams on preparation against Afghanistan’s spin attack: “We’ve put in extreme amounts of analysis into the opposition and we’ve worked on individual game plans.
“So I think sitting where we are now tonight, we’re in a really good place. Anything could happen in T20 cricket, we know that.”
Naveen-ul-Haq, pointing to the second semi-final spot as a three-way race between India, New Zealand and Afghanistan: “There are three teams that will be fighting for that spot because India has played one and lost one. And New Zealand has played one and lost one.
“I think the table is right open.”
(Source and courtesy: https://www.t20worldcup.com/)