Two more teams move past the halfway mark of their ICC Cricket World Cup group phase on Monday when Pakistan take on Afghanistan in Chennai in what is a really key game for both nations in their hope of reaching the semi-final.
Afghanistan have slipped to the bottom of the table and as such another loss could be the end of them and their knockout stage chances. Pakistan sit outside the semi-final spots on net run rate and a win here would move them into the coveted spots.
The league table will show that Afghanistan have one win from four matches to their name but it feels like they could have had so much more than that but have left some wins out there. The reason why they don’t have more wins on the board has been their inability to finish batting efforts off. They will be disappointed with their last showing though because they had set their tournament up nicely, only to fluff their lines against New Zealand.
After beating England in convincing fashion where they got out in front and then used their strengths to secure the win, they were never able to keep tabs on New Zealand with the ball, conceding too many at the death, and they just came out flat with the bat, albeit against a very good bowling attack. It is hard to back up a big win and we saw that in that last game but Afghanistan have nothing to worry about in that regard and they will hope to deliver their best showing here.
Pakistan opened up this tournament with a pair of wins, which was always going to be impressive when you consider the odds in which they are battling against in this tournament, but those were against opponents they would have been expected to beat. The next two matches came against teams who they would have needed to be at their best against in India and Australia and unfortunately they have come up short in both and will not want a third straight defeat here.
To be fair to Pakistan, they did well to keep their match against Australia respectable because at one time it looked like Australia were on course for a score of well over 400. In the end they got nowhere near because of some decent Pakistan death bowling but if the Asian side are going to go on and win this competition they need to read the game better with the bat in hand. That run chase just needed someone to take it to the end and you’d have fancied Pakistan to win but that responsibility wasn’t shown by anyone and they paid for it.
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Afghanistan were nothing like at their best in the last game but the team they had out on the field was probably the best XI that they have to offer. That means that they might send the same team out to battle and hope they perform better.
Pakistan can’t seem to settle on the right two spinners to use. Shadab Khan and Usama Mir have both had time on the side watching on and it might be that Mohammad Nawaz has his turn there here so Shadab comes back to extend the batting.
We are back to the wicket in Chennai where India met Australia earlier in the competition which means that we can expect to see plenty of turn and with both of these sides potentially being able to bowl 30 overs of spin that is likely to make scoring runs difficult even for batters who originate in conditions where the spinners usually have the best of it and so are used to playing good quality spin bowling. It is also set to be a baking hot day which will dry the pitch out even further.
That makes me think that a run line of 500.5 is a little on the high side. We have had three matches here to date and none of them have covered this line. Afghanistan played here in their last match and were shot out for 139. They haven’t finished off their batting effort well all competition and neither have Pakistan really. New Zealand did make 288/6 against Afghanistan in the last match here but they were only 185-4 after 40 overs before the Afghan bowling got carted by some big hitters. They don’t really exist in this Pakistan setup so I like the under in this one.
Back Under 500.5 runs for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365