T20 World Cup preview: Afghanistan take on Scotland in match no 5

(Cricket news) With nearly all the Asian teams having played their opening matches except Afghanistan, it's time for them to begin their campaign against giant killers Scotland. Amidst the political turmoil and unrest in their home country, Afghanistan cricket gives a reason to smile to all the fans back home as the players will be highly motivated to perform well and show their true value. As for Scotland, they are happy to make into the Super 12’s, an achievement that has come through playing a fearless brand of cricket, now they will hope to create many more upsets going forward into the tournament.

For Afghanistan the spin trio of Nabi, Rashid and Mujeeb will be one of the key factors as they arguably have the most talented and lethal spin attack in the tournament, for the Scottish batsman it will be crucial how they will negotiate the 12 overs of quality spin bowling. Afghanistan in their warm matches were quite impressive as in the first match the openers got out for duck but against West Indies they smashed the ball out of the part, Afghanistan team management like to take advantage of the field restriction in the powerplay as Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad are both fearless cricketers and like to play big shots from the get go. The concern going into the tournament for Afghanistan would be their fragile and inexperienced middle order as they might be put under pressure by Josh Davey who is also the leading wicket taker.

Scotland began their fairytale run against Bangladesh in the first match of the tournament and since then they have just gone strength to strength. For Scotland their main player Josh Davey will have an important role to play as he needs to pick up early wickets up front to expose the fragile middle order of  Afghanistan. At 31, Davey has the experience without losing the zing, to hit the sweet spot and swing the hard new ball, he's also the leading wicket taker in the World Cup having picked up 8 wickets in three matches. Scotland’s batting is also heavily reliant on their captain Kyle Coetzer as he tends to play the big shots at correct intervals, but one needs to keep an eye on Richie Berrington as he has been in good form and also has good technique to play the spinners well in the middle order.

Head to head:  Afghanistan 6 – 0 Scotland, however it's been five years since these two associate nations have played a T20 match and it's the first time they are facing each other in a World T20 tournament.

Pitch and weather report: The pitch at Sharjah will most likely be similar to the pitch we saw in yesterday's match against Sri lanka and Bangladesh. With a new pitch being used it seems more like a batting track but spinners will again hold the key in this venue. The trend of winning the toss and chasing is likely to continue as well. The temperature is going to hover around 33 degrees as dew may come into factor in the 2nd innings.

Interesting facts:

  •  Afghanistan is one of the most successful T20 sides since the World Cup in 2016, having one 29 of the 36 matches that they have played.
  •  Afghanistan balls per six ratio is 14.3 only behind West Indies (11.1)
  • Calum MacLeod once took 49 runs off Rashid Khan in an ODI – the second most any batter has taken against Rashid in an ODI 
  • Scotland have picked up 12 wickets in the death which is the most by any side 

Also read: After chaotic build-up, Afghanistan open their T20 WC campaign against spirited Scotland

Probable XI for Afghanistan:

1 Hazratullah Zazai, 2 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 3 Rahmanullah Gurbaz, 4 Najibullah Zadran, 5 Asghar Afghan, 6 Mohammad Nabi (capt), 7 Karim Janat, 8 Gulbadin Naib, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 11 Naveen ul Haq

Probable XI for Scotland:

1 George Munsey, 2 Kyle Coetzer (capt), 3 Matthew Cross (wk), 4 Richie Berrington, 5 Calum MacLeod, 6 Michael Leask, 7 Chris Greaves, 8 Mark Watt, 9 Josh Davey, 10 Safyaan Sharif, 11 Brad Wheal


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