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SportCricketT20 World Cup: Afghanistan face Scotland challenge in opener

T20 World Cup: Afghanistan face Scotland challenge in opener

Published: 24th Oct 2021 7:41 pm

Sharjah: The Afghanistan cricket team will hope to provide some joy to its people going through tumultuous times back home as it begins its T20 World Cup campaign against a spirited Scotland here on Sunday.

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Afghanistan finds itself in turmoil again after the Taliban takeover of the country in August. The cricketers could not get much practice due to the situation at home and there was also a controversy over team selection with star spinner Rashid Khan stepping down soon after the squad was announced. Few last minute changes were made and veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi is back to lead the team.

Notwithstanding their controversial build-up, Afghanistan have shown what they are capable of in the two-warm ups that they played in the lead up to the tournament. They lost to South Africa before wrapping up their preparations with a win over defending champions West Indies.

Afghanistan have built a reputation of a top bowling side over the years and if their batters are able to fire consistently in the tournament, they can beat any side on the day. A lot will depend on openers Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad in the batting department with Najibullah Zadran and skipper Nabi expected to get quick runs in the middle and death overs.

The spin trio of Rashid, Nabi and Mujeeb Zadran can trouble the best of batters and considering the slow and low nature of the Sharjah pitch in the IPL, they should enjoy bowling on the surface laid out for the World Cup game.

Their opponents, Scotland, are high on confidence after winning all their matches in the first round, including a famous win over Bangladesh. Scotland showed their character against the sixth-ranked Bangladesh as they came from an almost hopeless situation to stun their seasoned opponents. The new ball duo of Bradley Wheal and Josh Davey has been impressive while left-arm spinner Mark Watt has been effective in the middle overs. Watt made it amply clear post the win against Oman that Scotland are going into Super 12s with an aim to create a few upsets.

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