Leeds: Afghanistan, who gave a strong fight to India and Pakistan, will aim for their first win of the World Cup when they take on West Indies at Headingley on Thursday. Although it is a clash of two teams that failed to make it to the semi-finals, a lot of pride is at stake in this contest.
For West Indies, who began with great promise but ended up with a poor show, they would not want to end their campaign on a losing note, especially to the relatively inexperienced Afghanistan. As for Afghanistan, a victory over West Indies can wipe away the heartbreak they went through in both their clashes with the two giants of the subcontinent.
West Indies will be cagey against Afghanistan’s reputed spinners, while Afghanistan will try everything to stop the West Indies’ whirlwind batsmen from finding their rhythm in this match.
At Headingley, teams batting second have struggled, hence toss will be vital.
Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib is confident that his spinners will deliver in this match. “In our last game (at Leeds against Pakistan), our spinners bowled really well since the wicket here is suitable for our spinners. So if the wicket tomorrow is the same as last time, it could be difficult for them. But we need to bowl in the right areas, and that is the key point. I am hoping the wicket is the same one as the one we played against Pakistan.”
West Indies coach Roddy Estwick is wanting to finish on a high. “We lost badly at Birmingham. Everybody expected us to lose badly to England badly as well. But we chased down 380. So, hopefully, tomorrow also, with backs against the wall, we are able to produce a performance where we finish on a high,”
Estwick is extremely pleased with Nicholas Pooran’s century in the last match against Sri Lanka, and revealed how he had first seen him play well in Dubai. “I’ve always believed in Nicholas. I went to Dubai with him and I saw him play the best white-ball innings I’ve ever seen anybody play. He got 148 in a youth World Cup game against Australia out of a total of 208,” he said. “So I’m not surprised by his talent. What’s surprised me is that it’s taken this long to really come through. I hope he builds upon this and cements his place for a very long time.”
Naib made it clear that does not want to lose again narrowly as his team did against Pakistan and India, and he is confident that if his team bats the full 50 overs, they can win.
“We’ve played our previous games quite well. But it is vital that we play out the 50 overs. Only then will it be good for our bowlers. If our batsmen do not score well, it can difficult for all bowlers to defend.”
Catch the Match
Afghanistan vs West Indies
Start time: 1.30pm
Broadcast: OSN Sports