World Cup 2019, Match 31, Bangladesh Vs Afghanistan: Why Afghanistan will win the match
Afghanistan will lock horns with Bangladesh on June 24 in an ICC World Cup match that could go either way. The match will be played at the Hampshire Bowl which was also the venue where Afghanistan played out a thrilling match against India a couple of days ago.
Afghanistan might have lost that match against India but it wasn't a huge loss like their previous games were.
The match didn't lack fight from them and we finally witnessed their true potential. True, the pitch assisted them, but Afghanistan gathered some confidence and belief to take a World Cup favourite to the brink of a defeat.
First, Afghanistan's quality spinners strangled the quality Indian batsmen on a very slow track. Except for Virat Kohli, all the other Indian batsmen struggled to time the ball as India's innings went nowhere as the team ended up with a total of 224/8.
The chase was always going to be difficult for a brittle Afghanistan line up against a quality Indian bowling attack but the likes of Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Mohammad Nabi displayed different methods of scoring to help the team.
In particular, Nabi displayed incredible ability with the bat to have his team afloat till the last over of the match. However, Mohammad Shami bowled an excellent final over and picked up a hat-trick to defeat Afghanistan by 11 runs.
Although the team lost, the team would have gained a lot of confidence from that match. Afghanistan will look to take that confidence into their next game against Bangladesh.
While Afghanistan can't qualify for the semi-finals, Bangladesh can still progress if they win all their remaining three games. So, the fact that this match against Afghanistan is a must-win fixture doesn't need to be explained.
One could say that it is surprising to see Bangladesh in this particular scenario considering how impressive they have been throughout the World Cup. However, while their batting line-up lead by Shakib Al Hasan has displayed it's world-class quality, the same can't be said about their bowling attack. The bowling attack lacks penetration and that is the reason why Bangladesh only have five points from six games.
Even in the last match against Australia, Bangladesh put up a superb effort in a difficult 382-run chase but the bowlers had given away too many runs in the first inning.
This might play into Afghanistan's hands as batting is their weaker suit. Afghanistan's strong spin-bowling attack will also be confident of restricting Bangladesh's batting line-up.
The confidence can be taken from the fact that Bangladesh's highest score against them in ODIs is only 279. Further the two teams have met on 7 occasions before this and Bangladesh only have a slim 4-3 advantage.
Now, let's dive a little deeper and find out why Afghanistan will win the match.
Confidence from the India game
While performances on the field will depend more on ability and skill, factors like emotions and confidence can never be ruled out. Just think about Afghanistan's mindset if they had ended up with a huge loss against India.
They were already coming off a run of bad games and several off-field issues.So, Afghanistan's good performance against India would have given a lot of motivation for the team to end the World Cup on a high.
Bragging rights in a budding rivalry
Yes, this particular match-up has been building up as a good rivalry ever since Afghanistan beat Bangladesh in the 2014 Asia Cup to secure their first ever win against a 'Full Member of the ICC'.
Matches between the two sides have never been short on drama. One could look back at the altercations during the clash between these two teams in the 2014 World T20 or the 2015 ICC World Cup. While, Bangaldesh have a lead when it comes to Head-to-Head record in ODIs, Afghanistan have a 6-5 record in T20Is. Afghanistan will look to win
Spin-friendly Southampton tracks
The pitches at the Hampshire bowl in Southampton haven't been easy to bat because of their slow nature. The highest score at the ground in this World Cup has been only 230. Afghanistan used the slow nature of the track to their advantage as the quality spinners tied down the Indian batsmen on Saturday.
Afghanistan will look to do the same in order to restrict a Bangladesh team that has scored 300 or more on three occasions in this World Cup. One could argue that Bangladesh also have quality spinners in the form of Shakib and Mehidy Hasan but the wrist spinners have more chance of causing damage in terms of wickets.
Also see – Australia vs England head to head stats