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Defending world cup champions England will lock horns against Afghanistan at the Arun Jaitely Stadium in Delhi on Sunday. This will be the third contest for both sides in the tournament.
England & Afghanistan’s CWC World Cup Run
England have won once and lost one game in the mega event so far. After losing their opening game to New Zealand by 9 wickets, they got two points against Bangladesh on Tuesday.
Thanks to a brilliant ton of Dawid Malan’s bat, the Englishmen racked up a mammoth 137-run victory.
As of Friday, they are sitting at the fifth spot in the points table with a net run-rate of 0.55.
As for Afghanistan, they are at the bottom of the table, yet to secure a win. Afghanistan have played Bangladesh and India so far, losing to both Asian giants in a one-sided affair.
Skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi will be desperate to upset the odds and clinch two points against the reigning champions on Sunday.
England have played Shahidi’s men twice and beaten on both occasions. Both sides haven’t played a lot of cricket against each other in any format.
First game was played in England, whereas the second was at a neutral venue.
In T20Is, they’ve played just three games with the Englishmen clinching the W in every match.
Most of their encounters have been one-sided affairs in favour of the reigning world cup champions.
Probable Man of the Match
Rashid Khan is someone you can put your money on to outperform other bowlers in almost any match regardless of the format, but the mystery spinner has been flying very much under the radar in the world cup so far.
He failed to pick any wicket in Afghanistan’s opening game against Bangladesh. AGainst India, he dismissed Ishan Kishan and captain Rohit Sharma, but the Indian openers had already smacked him for enough runs by then.
The game had already slipped out of Shahidi’s unit and their wickets did not change the outcome of the contest.
Despite not being at his best for now, Rashid Khan’s ability to deceive the batters will always keep one guessing. The pitches have not supported spinners a lot, and with a little break in the Delhi surface, who knows if Rashid can have a crack?
The 36-year-old Roehampton star averages over 63 in ODIs, something that has helped him maintain his opening spot within a team which has superstars waiting for their turn on the sidelines. He hasn’t let his age be a concern due to his agile fielding and quick running between the wickets.
In only 23 ODI innings, he has scored six centuries and five half-centuries, helping him reach 1,200 runs in a short span of time.
Malan got only 14 in the opening game against New Zealand, but then made sure to turn it into 140 in their next contest against Bangladesh.
With an unorthodox batting grip which shows his full face of the bat, he struck five sixes and 16 fours, smacking bowlers all over the park. He’s back into his absolute best and the opening slot will allow him to go berserk and continue with his usual rhythm.
Critics have often claimed that Malan tends to struggle in sub-content, but his last century was his answer to every critique he has gotten so far.
Captain Buttler’s faith is very evident in his selection and the left-handed opener is most likely to fetch the man of the match award on Sunday.
He’s hit 23 boundaries in two games altogether.
Jos Buttler has been playing at number four for England in 50-over games, unlike the opening slot that serves him real good in T20Is.
Nonetheless, his fierce striking always makes him a potent weapon for the opposition. Although he got only 43 and 20 in his first world cup games, his red-hot form was very evident from the limited deliveries that he faced.
He’s a player who likes to hit big, straight, and does it very often.
If he continues with his purple patch, it will be a gigantic task for Afghanistan to stop him from raking up a big score.
Arun Jaitely hosted the opening game against England and New Zealand.
Generally, the wicket supports spinners, and length deliveries for pacers as it tends to grip and turn very often. Batters will have to play the ball a little late than usual to time it well.
However, it was quite surprising to see the New Zealand batters chase the target down without much trouble from the Englishmen.
The wicket seemingly becomes better for the team batting second. Hence, whoever wins the toss will be likely to ask the opposition to put their pads on first.
England vs Afghanistan prediction
Afghanistan have not shown any fight in the tournament so far.
They are known for grit and determination against world beaters, often beating some of them once or twice, but their current form against the defending world champions seems to be concerning.
Unfortunately for Hashmatullah Shahidi and co, the mega event seems like a bleak midwinter that does not have much fruit to offer.
In both games, skipper Shahidi is the only player to go past the 50-run mark, something that the Afghans should worry about before their tour is done and dusted in India.
Their players like Gurbaz, Mujeeb, Nabi and Rashid are quite familiar with India’s conditions, but they, somehow, have not been able to make any mark as a unit.
On the flip side, England have regained their spirits in their last encounter. Their team is brimming with match winners who are known for turning the game around in the matter of a few overs.
England are firm favourites to win the contest. They are likely to make it 3-0 against Afghanistan on Sunday in Delhi and clinch two more points to go up on the points table.