Cricket

Afghanistan brace themselves for the Australian challenge


ICC UNDER 19 WORLD CUP, 2018

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Afghanistan will bank on their spinners to challenge Australia. © Getty

After two brilliant wins in their respective quarterfinals, Australia and Afghanistan will battle it out on Monday (January 28) in the first semifinal for a place in the final of the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Christchurch.

In what could have easily been labelled as the match of the tournament so far, Australia picked up a 31-run shock win over England to seal a spot in the semifinal. While the margin might not seem much, that Australia picked up a win with that margin was commendable factoring in that they were defending 128.

An eight-wicket haul from Lloyd Pope, who finished with figures of 8 for 35 after England were cruising in the chase at 47 for 0 only to be bowled out for 96, left them shellshocked as Australia cruised into the semifinal where they were to face the winners of the clash between New Zealand and Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, in their quarterfinal, led by their spinners mauled New Zealand by a massive 202-runs to continue their fabulous tournament. They not just scored as many as 309 after four of their batsmen scored over 60 after calling right at the toss, but bowled out hosts New Zealand in under 30 overs.

Come the clash against Australia, Australia’s campaign hasn’t had standout performers but a culmination of a team effort coming together. Led by skipper Jason Sangha, they have done well to pull off wins when required after having fallen to India in their tournament opener. While Afghanistan’s strength is their spin, Australia might be vulnerable to just that, which could peg them back.

However, the fact that Afghanistan even made it so far is of interest to the cricket world. If they can pip one of the heavyweights, it would add another feather to their already ornated cap.

When: Australia vs Afghanistan, January 29, 1030am local time

Where: Hagley Oval, Christchurch

What to expect: Sunny for most parts, but showers could visit

Team news:

Afghanistan: Unlikely for Afghanistan to make any changes going into the clash.

Australia: Nor would Australia like to tweak a winning combination although they would want some runs from the top and middle order. Too much depends on their skipper at the moment.

What they said:

“It’s a fresh game tomorrow, I still see Australia as favourites but after everyone has seen us play the other day they’re probably not quite as big a favourites as they were a week ago. I’m expecting a really tough game, our boys know we have to be at our best and that’s our challenge” – Andy Moles, Afghanistan coach.

“The best part of our cricket is that we focus on ourselves. We don’t know too much about the Afghanistan guys but the best thing about the World Cup is that it’s always unexpected. So you don’t know what you’re going to get. It’s a really good challenge and looking forward to embracing the challenge of taking on a team we haven’t seen much of” – Jason Sangha, Australia captain.

Squads:

Australia: Jason Sangha(c), Will Sutherland, Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant, Jack Edwards, Zak Evans, Jarrod Freeman, Ryan Hadley, Baxter J Holt, Nathan McSweeney, Jonathan Merlo, Lloyd Pope, Jason Ralston, Param Uppal, Austin Waugh

Afghanistan: Naveen-ul-Haq (c), Rahmanullah, Mohammad Ibrahim, Darwish Rasooli, Nisar Wahdat, Tariq Stanikzai, Azmatullah, Qais Ahmad, Mujeeb Zadran, Zahir Khan, Yousuf Zazai, Wafadar, Ikram Ali Khil, Baheer Shah, Waqarullah Ishaq

© Cricbuzz

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