Australia vs Afghanistan: A Thing of the Past
Once upon a time, Australia vs Afghanistan in World Cup matches without a hint of fear. Their previous encounters in 2015 and 2019 had been marked by Australia’s ruthless victories. In 2015, they scored a colossal 417 for 6, with David Warner smashing 178, leading to a 275-run win. In 2019, in Bristol, Australia secured a comfortable seven-wicket win, dismissing Afghanistan for 207, with Warner again making a significant contribution with an unbeaten 89.
A New Challenge: Afghanistan’s Formidable Rise
However, in 2023, the Australians cannot take the Wankhede Stadium match lightly. Afghanistan poses a formidable threat, with their recent winning streak of three games. They have already claimed victories against England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Netherlands, pushing for their maiden semi-final berth. Their spin quartet, consisting of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, and Noor Ahmad, can create problems for Australia’s batting line-up. Afghanistan’s batting has been impressive throughout the tournament, and this potent combination almost upset Australia in the 2022 T20 World Cup, mainly due to the pace duo of Naveen-ul-Haq and Fazalhaq Farooqi.
Conditions Favor Australia
One advantage for Australia is the different playing conditions at Wankhede compared to the spin-friendly venues in Chennai and Delhi. Wankhede has been the highest-scoring ground in first innings in the tournament, playing to Australia’s strengths. Spin has had minimal impact in Mumbai’s last 10 ODIs at the venue. Moreover, Australia’s batting unit holds good individual match-up records against Afghanistan’s spinners in T20 cricket.
A Match Laden with History and Emotions
Apart from history and conditions, there is another aspect to consider. The game carries a different undertone for Afghanistan, with some players still recalling Cricket Australia’s decision to cancel a Test between the two nations in November 2021 and a three-match ODI series in March 2023 due to political reasons. This decision serves as a source of motivation for Afghanistan, driving them to prove a point about their standing in global cricket.
Afghanistan: WWWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the Spotlight: Rashid Khan and Mitchell Marsh
Rashid Khan, long the talisman of Afghanistan’s attack, has been below his best in this World Cup, with just seven wickets at an average of 43.85. Against Australia, he doesn’t seem like a major threat, given the familiarity of Australia’s batters with his style. On the other hand, Mitchell Marsh’s role in Australia’s batting lineup has been a topic of discussion, and his form at No. 3 will be crucial for Australia’s success in the tournament.
Team News: Naveen or Noor, Smith or Labuschagne?
Afghanistan’s lineup seems settled, with the choice between Naveen and Noor Ahmad dependent on conditions. Australia, on the other hand, faces a dilemma regarding Mitchell Marsh’s position and the potential inclusion of Marcus Stoinis. The choice could impact Australia’s power-hitting ability and balance.
Pitch and Conditions
The Wankhede Stadium has been a batting paradise in the World Cup, with first-innings scores consistently exceeding 350. However, the hot and humid conditions in Mumbai, with temperatures reaching 37 degrees, might present a challenge for both teams.
Stats and Trivia
- The Wankhede Stadium leads in terms of sixes per match in the tournament, averaging 18.3 sixes per game.
- Adam Zampa holds the record for the longest streak of taking three wickets or more in World Cup matches, with the potential to match Umar Gul’s record.
- David Warner is just 45 runs away from reaching 18,000 runs in all forms of international cricket as an opener, joining the elite company of Sanath Jayasuriya and Chris Gayle.
As the stage is set for this thrilling encounter between Australia and Afghanistan, the cricketing world eagerly awaits to witness history in the making. Will Australia continue their dominance, or will Afghanistan rise to the occasion and make their mark in the World Cup?