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|Mujib Ur Rahman||13||9||1||1||144.44|
|Mujib Ur Rahman||4.5||0||45||1||9.31|
We are within a day of the inaugural game of the much-awaited first game of ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 where South Africa is set to take on the hosts, England. Going ahead in the tournament, we have Afghanistan taking on Australia in an all-important encounter which may not look as engrossing on paper but may well turn out to be a cracker of an encounter. The two teams are set to meet each other on 1st May in the fourth World Cup encounter at County Ground, Bristol. Not long ago, Afghanistan and Australia had plenty of daylight between them as far as the difference in ODI rankings is concerned. While the difference is still there, it has definitely bridged by some margin, if not completely. The kind of format this World Cup is being played in, no team can afford to take their opponents lightly. Such is going to be the case once again and despite daylight of a difference between the two sides, we expect a cracker of a contest.
Afghanistan's rise in the International Cricket has been one of the most loved fairy-tale stories in the history of cricket. They became the fastest team to gain test status which happened only due to their terrific performance in limited-overs cricket. Even though they are coming into this tournament as the underdogs, they are more than capable of toppling any nation on their day - as they did against Pakistan in their first warm-up fixture.
Afghanistan have already shown their capability numerous times in the shortest version of the game, but it is about the time that they step up and show their A-game in the fifty over format as well.
Over the years, Afghanistan have relied heavily on their spinners and they have paid rich dividends so far. Rashid Khan has been a key figure for them along with the likes of Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman and will be a big threat not only against Australia but against the rest of the teams as well.
While they have a world-class spin attack, they do not have the same luxury as far as seamers are concerned. They lack reliable and experienced new-ball bowlers, which has been visible in most of their recent matches. Their another area of vulnerability is their batting which is as fragile and unpredictable as it can get. They bat deep with the likes of Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan, who come in to bat almost towards the end of the order, available to bat, but their top-order hasn't been as consistent as they'd have liked. This was apparent in their second warm-up fixture as well where they were reduced to 92 for 8 against England.
Up until now, most of Afghanistan's wins have come under the leadership of Asghar Afghan, and it will be interesting to see how they fare under their new captain, Gulbadin Naib. They have a strong side with exceptional spin-attack and if they can hold their nerve in the upcoming contest, they will not be an easy side to get past.
M Shahzad, Hazratullah Zazai, R Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, N Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hamid Hassan.
Roll back just around six months, Australia would have been nowhere close to being one of the title contenders. While they still not carry the favorites tag, they have a pretty good chance to retain the title, especially considering their experience and habit of winning the big ICC tournaments.
The change has happened primarily because of two reasons. One - the form which David Warner and Steven Smith exhibited in the Indian Premier League would really have raised their management's as well as their fans' hopes. Second - they are coming of off a terrific winning run into the tournament, thirteen wins out of their last fourteen hours.
Another thing going for them would be that they do no longer have the same aura as most of the past World Cup winning Australian sides and consequently not the same amount of pressure to perform as that of India or England.
The return of Steve Smith and David Warner have certainly solved aplenty, if not all, of their problems as far as their batting is concerned. They both have been in prolific touch in recent matches and a lot will rely on them in all of their matches. Alongside them, Glenn Maxwell will have a huge role to play considering that they do not really have anyone else who is known to be as the reliable clean hitter of the ball like him.
Considering the nature of English tracks, their bowling might be an issue which even though is not weak on any account, at least on paper. They have the likes of Mitchell Starc, Patrick Cummins, Nathan Lyon, and Adam Zampa at their disposal. Cummins has been unstoppable in their last few matches as he has picked up 17 wickets at an overage of 10.9 in the last five matches.
All in all, Australia have a strong, potent unit which bats deep and has good experience in bowling as well. Their bowling appears to be unidimensional, at least on paper, which on their day can turn out to be an extremely dangerous threat for any batting unit.
Aaron Finch, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa.
The team winning the toss should be looking to bowl first with a bit of assistance expected for their seamers early in the match. However, it's the first match for both the sides and there will be huge pressure to perform which may lead to the skippers choosing otherwise.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
The surface of Bristol was earlier known to be a track meant for the bowlers, but has been a high-scoring ground in recent times. Having said that, it's likely to have a tinge of green on Saturday and plenty of assistance is expected for the quick bowlers. First few overs will be tricky to negotiate for the batsmen and if they can get through that period, it might be a paradise to bat on. Considering the small boundaries, the team batting first should once again be targeting a total in excess of 280.
With two teams having different sets of strengths and weaknesses, picking up this Dream11 squad turned out to be relatively easy. Australia's strength lie in their power-packed top-order comprising of Steven Smith, Usman Khawaja, and David Warner whereas for Afghanistan, it is their spinners who are likely to deal most of the damage.
Considering the fact that Mohammad Shahzad comes onto bat at the top order and Alex Carey in the lower middle-order, picking the wicket-keeper was pretty straightforward. Unless Shahzad does not recover in time from his injury which is highly unlikely, he will our pick for the wicket-keeper slot.
David Warner was in sublime form in Indian Premier League and no batsman was even close to him as far as scoring the most runs in the tournament is concerned. He will be the man to watch out for not just in the upcoming fixture, but also in the tournament ahead. Considering that he has plenty of experience of playing against and with Rashid Khan, the Afghan spinners are unlikely to present him with any trouble. He is our choice for the skipper as well. Apart from him, Rahman Shah, Hazratullah Zazai, Steven Smith, and Usman Khawaja are included in our batting lineup.
There aren't too many options to choose from as far as all-rounders' department is concerned and Mohammad Nabi and Glenn Maxwell both walk into our Dream11 side. Nabi did well in both the departments in the warm-ups as well as Afghanistan's fixtures against Scotland and is an ideal choice for vice-captain position.
Patrick Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Rashid Khan form the bowling lineup for our Dream11 side.
Check out the complete Dream11 lineup for Afghanistan vs Australia fixture below:
It hasn't happened often that these two teams have played a lot of times against each other and whenever they have, Australia have comfortably emerged on top. Having said that, Afghanistan have played some really good cricket in recent times and can be said to be well and truly acquainted to the English conditions. On paper, Australia are clearly a better side between the two and it will take a huge effort from the Afghans to prove it otherwise. With a strong batting lineup and a terrific bowling attack suited to English conditions, Australians are firm favorites to emerge on top in the upcoming encounter.
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