Manchester, June 17 (IANS) Hosts England will aim to carry on its winning streak with a hat-trick when they meet minnows Afghanistan in World Cup 2019 group affair at the Old Trafford here on Tuesday. It will also be for the first time when the two teams face-off in the 50-over format.
Except for their loss against Pakistan, it’s been a smooth ride for the hosts who have had massive wins in three games. However, the Three Lions will be worried over the fitness of their two key players — skipper Eoin Morgan and opener Jason Roy as both left the field during the game against West Indies on June 14.
Given England’s stable position in the tournament points table, the team management might consider giving them a one-match break to let them recover completely.
If it happens, James Vince could partner Jonny Bairstow. Moeen Ali is likely to be back in the playing XI as the wicket at Old Trafford has a history of assisting spinners.
Leaving aside the injury concerns, the hosts have performed well like a unit. Jofra Archer’s spells have added depth to their bowling and Mark Wood has also been impressive.
England’s only concern could be the form of their spinners who haven’t been upto the mark. However, looking at the wicket here, it seems this time their spinners will also make the most of it.
On the other hand, Afghanistan has remained winless so far. The Afghans have lost all of their four games in the tournament so far.
The Gulbadin Naib-led side has experimented with several combinations but nothing has worked for them. Batting remains a major challenge as the batsmen have failed in putting runs.
While some of their bowlers like Mohammad Nabi, Hamid Hassan and Rashid Khan have been economical, they have struggled to get wickets. However, looking at the conditions here, a lot will be expected from Rashid.
Their pacer need to be more consistent as the bowling unit has mostly relied on the spinners.
Naib could include Mujeeb-ur-Rahman for Tuesday’s game in what is likely to be a spin-friendly track.
England: Eoin Morgan (Captain), Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, James Vince, Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Liam Dawson, Tom Curran, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Joe Root
Afghanistan: Afghanistan World Cup squad: Gulbadin Naib (Captain), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah (wicket-keeper), Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Ikram Ali Khil