England vs Afghanistan Preview Prediction – England, after their defeat to Pakistan, has made an outstanding comeback as they absolutely thumped Bangladesh and West Indies in their next two games by huge margins of 106 runs and 8 wickets respectively. Their net run rate is +1.557, which is only second best to New Zealand in the points table. So they are on the right track for their semi-final qualification.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, is almost out of the tournament. They are winless till now and even if they secure victories in all their games from here on, their NRR is so poor that it’s nearly impossible for them to advance to the next stage of the tournament.
Possible changes in the two teams
England had two of their extremely vital players, Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan, sustaining injuries in the last game against West Indies. Considering they are now up against Afghanistan which is not that strong an opposition, England wouldn’t want to risk either of these two players.
If both Roy and Morgan sit out, Jos Buttler will discharge the captaincy duties for the hosts, while James Vince will open the innings with Jonny Bairstow. Also, Moeen Ali might take Morgan’s place in the XI which will give England an extra bowling option as well.
England dropped Najibullah Zadran for Asghar Afghan in the last game which was a surprise call as Najib was one of their in-form batsmen. Asghar couldn’t trouble the scorers in his first appearance in the tournament as he was dismissed for a 5-ball duck. The veteran might have to make way for Najib again or if the Afghanistan team management decides to give Asghar one more opportunity, Hashmatullah Shahidi might be left out for Najib.
The rest of the Afghanistan XI that played against South Africa should remain the same. Although Rahmat Shah’s indifferent form is a matter of concern, he is their most solid batsman and they are likely to keep him in the playing XI.
Players to watch out for
England (Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood)
Jonny Bairstow, although he hasn’t had too many off days in this World Cup so far, he hasn’t scored those hundreds that he has been consistently scoring in this format leading up to the tournament. He is a terrific player and somebody who can not only pierce the gaps with his touch play but can muscle the ball as well. Afghanistan would want him back in the hut as early as possible.
Mark Wood is another player in the England attack, apart from Jofra Archer, who can clock 90 miles an hour on the speed gun consistently and he rushed the West Indies batsmen with his pace last game. So, tackling his pace will be a huge challenge for Afghanistan.
Afghanistan (Rashid Khan and Hamid Hassan)
Although Rashid Khan is known more for his bowling, he has shown time and again that he is no mug with the bat and can strike the ball pretty cleanly if and when required. He did so versus South Africa too as he scored 35 off just 25 deliveries and if not for that innings, Afghanistan might have been bowled out for less than 100.
Afghanistan can slot Rashid slightly up the order, possibly at no. 7 and use his batting credentials as well, other than his extraordinary bowling capabilities.
Hamid Hassan has looked nippy in all the games and has also generated good pace. If he can hit the right spots consistently, he has it in him to bowl a match-defining spell for Afghanistan. England will probably not want to go ultra-aggressive against him as he can do them quite a bit of damage.
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