The return of Australian top players David Warner and Steve Smith will be top of everyone’s agenda as Afghanistan and Australia open their ICC World Cup campaign. This match will be played in Bristol on Saturday in a day/night encounter.
After a long period of poor results, Australia have bounced back into contention. The Kangaroos are silently improving their confidence and the return of Smith and Warner only added to that. Afghanistan, however, will not be an easy pushover. They have shown it in the practice match win against Pakistan already.
The Afghans have been touring the British Isles to acclimatise early. The drubbing at the hands of England should not override the fact that they have defeated Pakistan easily. They have won 12 of their last 18 ODIs and are silently improving their confidence.
The worry for Afghanistan is the absence of firepower in their batting. Also in question will be their ability to play the swinging ball. What is unquestionable, is their ability with the ball, led by Rashid Khan.
Australia received a massive boost when Warner was cleared to play this match. That could be bad news for the Afghans, however. Aaron Finch can now rely on Smith to shoulder the burden of middle-order batting.
The likes of Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis will be expected to provide the late fireworks. Bowling is already in good hands with Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Adam Zampa.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Steve Smith has shown that his hunger for runs hasn’t diminished. He has five scores of fifty and above in his last five warm-ups.
Rashid Khan is one of the best young spinners in the world right now. His ER of 3.90 and average of 15.33 makes him a very strong pick for your fantasy side.
Usman Khawaja has been at the forefront of Australia’s comeback. His 383 runs in five ODIs against India helped Australia fightback. And, his form should continue in this match.
Mohammad Shahzad should be fit to play after missing the last practice game.
Afghanistan: 1 Hazratullah Zazai 2 Mohammad Shahzad (WK) 3 Rahmat Shah 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi 5 Asghar Afghan 6 Mohammad Nabi 7 Gulbadin Naib (C) 8 Rashid Khan 9 Aftab Alam 10 Hamid Hassan 11 Dawlat Zadran
Warner’s fitness is a boost for Australia. Nathan Lyon could miss out to Zampa.
Australia: 1 Aaron Finch (C) 2 David Warner 3 Usman Khawaja 4 Steve Smith 5 Glenn Maxwell 6 Marcus Stoinis 7 Alex Carey (WK) 8 Pat Cummins 9 Adam Zampa 10 Mitchell Starc 11 Nathan Coulter-Nile
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