If it’s Rashid Khan’s day then Pakistan are in trouble.
That’s the warning sounded by Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib as his side aim to put the skids under the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup’s form team at Headingley.
Rashid, ranked third in the ICC ODI bowling rankings, hasn’t yet set the showpiece alight and was visibly frustrated with his team’s efforts in the field in their defeat to Bangladesh.
But Gulbadin reminded the world of the threat posed by the 20-year-old, whose tally of 125 ODI wickets since the 2015 World Cup is bettered only by England’s Adil Rashid.
“Pakistan are a strong team and played spin very well in this last two games,” said Gulbadin.
“But Rashid is a different spinner, he’s very different to other leg-spinners, it’s very difficult to pick him.
“In this World Cup, I don’t think he’s been at his best but he’s given everything in terms of effort. On his day, it’s very difficult for any team to deal with him.
“Rashid is trying to give 100 per cent and trying his best, this is a World Cup, everyone just wants to give their best performances.
“If it is a Rashid day, it’s very difficult for anyone.”
Pakistan have shown their prowess against the turning ball in successive victories over South Africa and New Zealand that have propelled them to within a point of the semi-final spots.
Particularly impressive was the manner in which Haris Sohail and Babar Azam negotiated sharp spin on a used pitch at Edgbaston, paving the way for a six-wicket success over the Black Caps.
Rashid’s spin twin Mujeeb Ur Rahman has been Afghanistan’s standout performer and shackled India’s vaunted top order, dismissing Rohit Sharma and conceding just 26 runs from his ten overs.
Gulbadin revealed the 18-year-old was left out of the team to face South Africa and New Zealand due to concerns over the fluency of his bowling action but is delighted by his recent displays.
“We were worried about Mujeeb’s action in the first couple of games,” he explained.
“He was missing something. He went away with our coach and video analyst to work on it and he has his form and rhythm back now.
“If you look at his last few games, he’s bowled really well. I think he had lost some of his momentum and his bowling grip.
“In the last few games he did a really good job for the team. We hope he will give us 100 per cent against Pakistan.”
The biggest prize in cricket is up for grabs this summer as the top 10 teams battle it out in the 2019 ICC World Cup in England.
As fans, it’s not just watching the best players battle it out to look forward to. Fantasy cricket means you have the opportunity to get involved as well.
Dream11 is the official partner of the ICC tournament’s fantasy league. And we are with you every step of the way with our tips and picks to guide you through each round.
Here, we help you navigate through the eighth round which includes five matches and begins on Saturday with Pakistan’s clash against Afghanistan.
Indian pacers a must-have
India play England and Bangladesh in round eight, making it logical to stock up the team with the Men in Blue. Jasprit bumrah is in red-hot form and is likely to play a key role in both clashes. The pacer has been the go-to bowler whenever the 2011 champions needed a breakthrough and he has never disappointed.
Mohammad Shami is another Indian pacer who is likely to claim big wickets over the next two games. The 28-year-old entered the starting-XI after Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was side-lined due to injury. He has bagged eight wickets in two games against Afghanistan and West Indies, including a hat-trick at the death against the former.
With India playing twice in one round, it’s strongly recommended to fill your team with Virat Kohli’s men. The bowlers have made more of an impact in the last two games and banking on them to do the same in the next two could be a good call.
Virat Kohli (11 credits)
The Indian skipper has made it a habit to score half-centuries, registering 50-plus scores in each of his last four innings. Kohli has always been the player to rise up to the occasion and after fifties against Australia and Pakistan, he could go for the biggie against England and claim his first ton of the tournament.
The 30-year-old has unsurprisingly been India’s most consistent batsman. England and Bangladesh could be the next entrants into his list of victims this tournament.
David Warner (10.5 credits)
The Aussie opening pair of David Warner and Aaron finch has arguably been the most dangerous duo so far. Both players are perched up on top of the leading run-scorers chart, scoring big at will.
Warner has scored 500 runs in seven innings, smashing two tons and three fifties. Finch and the southpaw have scored tons in alternate games for over four games now. With the Aussie skipper registering a 100 against England, it’s statistically likely that Warner will get into triple digits against the Kiwis.
Babar Azam (10 credits)
Pakistan have announced their arrival into the top-four race with wins over South Africa and New Zealand. Babar Azam scored a century against the latter, embodying a tremendous innings under pressure.
The 1992 champions will be highly motivated to push for a semis spot and Azam could very well be the key.
Pakistan face tournament minnows Afghanistan and the 24-year-old could reach a big score if he gets going. He is also most likely to play the anchor role in a collapse and hence a safe pick for this round.
Jasprit Bumrah (9.5 credits)
Bumrah is leading a bowling attack which could make a case for being India’s most dangerous in at least over a decade. The 25-year-old has claimed nine wickets so far, with most of those proving to be game-changing instants.
On Sunday, Bumrah will be up against a highly competent batting order and could be made to work for the wickets. But it’s more than likely that the pacer will shine over the two games in this round as India look to top the table.
Shaheen Afridi (8 credits)
Mohammad Amir and youngster Shaheen Afridi could also be good picks, given the Men in Green face an Afghanistan side that batted their full quota of 50 overs just once this tournament.
The 19-year-old claimed six wickets in three outings, dismissing Colin Munro, Ross Taylor and Tom Latham in Pakistan’s recent win over the Kiwis. Afridi could gun down the Afghan middle-order and propel his team closer to a top-four finish.
At just eight credits, Afridi could prove to be a good bargain.
Ben Stokes (9 credits)
Ben Stokes has probably been England’s only positive over the past two games in which his 80+ scores have come at a losing cause.
Dependable with the bat and handy with the ball, Stokes could fetch heaps of points against India. The southpaw is the hosts’ best hope of a recovery from two straight defeats.
Hardik Pandya (9 credits)
The swashbuckling Hardik Pandya has been a Swiss army knife for the Men in Blue. He has picked up wickets when needed and batted across the middle-order, as required by the team.
In the two games that India play in this round, a Pandya cameo featuring a short but dynamic innings from the all-rounder is very much on the cards. He could also provide a breakthrough in the middle-overs should the spinners hit a dry spell.
MS Dhoni (9 credits)
The veteran Indian wicketkeeper has received some criticism for his slow strike-rate in the World Cup. But it’s worth noting that the 2011 World Cup winning captain has produced well-paced innings on slow batting surfaces when the majority of India’s batting line-up failed to cope.
With two games to play, Dhoni has a higher chance of claiming more catches, stumpings and even score more runs. The former skipper should hence be treated as a straight-forward pick.
Jos Buttler has dismissed the idea that England are losing their cool in the heat of the World Cup campaign, insisting “pressure is a privilege”.
Three defeats from their first seven group games have left the home side’s semi-final prospects hanging in the balance ahead of Sunday’s Egbaston clash against an India team who have just replaced them on top of the world rankings.
If that was not enough to nudge tensions towards fever pitch, opening batsman Jonny Bairstow found himself embroiled in a terse exchange with former England captain and fellow Yorkshireman Michael Vaughan.
He was one of several media pundits who offered scathing critiques after the Lord’s loss to Australia, leading Bairstow to claim there was an agenda against the team and a will to see them stumble.
Vaughan refuted that suggestion in no uncertain terms in messages posted via Twitter and Instagram and cited Bairstow’s “negative, pathetic mindset” in response.
Geoffrey Boycott later tweeted that Bairstow was “making excuses” and added: “You got us in a tight corner, now get us out of it!”
“It’s just typical Yorkies,” Buttler said with a smile when asked about sideshow.
Excellent interview by @josbuttler saying the @englandcricket team have great support. @jbairstow21 was making excuses saying some ppl wanted Eng to fail. They haven’t played as well as expected & only the players can fix that. You got us in a tight corner. Now get us out of it!— Geoffrey Boycott (@GeoffreyBoycott) June 28, 2019
How wrong can @jbairstow21 be .. Never has England team had so much support but it’s you and your team that has disappointed Jonny .. WIN 2 games and you are in the semis .. With this negative, pathetic mindset I… https://t.co/olrefg6IFP— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) June 28, 2019
“As a player, when Jonny seems to have a point to prove he performs outstandingly well. I don’t think that’s quite the case [here] but I don’t know enough about what was said to really have an opinion.
“The mood in the camp is still very good. Naturally there’s some external pressure – it would be naive to say we’ve got our blinkers on and we’re not aware of things that are going on outside. I think we just have to accept those things as what happens during tournament cricket.”
Buttler’s own views about the support levels the team experience clearly diverge from his team-mate’s sentiments, though, having been roared on from the roadside by some enthusiastic fans recently.
He added: “I was in London walking down the street with my wife and I was saying ‘I don’t know how big the World Cup has been, I don’t know what I was expecting’ and as I said that a couple of guys drove past and shouted good luck.
“She said ‘you’ve just answered your own question. People are wishing you well’. Walking down the street, people wishing you well, guys hanging out of their vans wishing you good luck for Sunday, that’s a good sign for me. I think it’s been great from the country.”
Having attempted to draw the sting from that issue, Buttler made no attempt to downplay the importance of their next game. Instead, he revelled in the elevated stakes. “It’s a massive occasion,” he said.
“You talk about pressures, external pressures, well pressure is a privilege sometimes. We’re in a very privileged position to be in this situation.
“These are the games you look back on, or at the start of your career, that you hope you’re part of. It’s going to be a great occasion. We know the support India will get, wherever they go in the world they get great support. We hope we get great support too and that it’s a great game.”
Bairstow’s first-choice opening partner Jason Roy enjoyed a long and seemingly pain-free net on Friday and looks increasingly likely to return to the XI after three games out with a torn hamstring.
He has been much missed and, considering James Vince’s struggles, may play even if he falls short of 100% fitness.
Leading wicket-taker Jofra Archer could be a bigger concern. The paceman has been experiencing tightness in his left side and underwent a light training session, completing sprints and throwing drills but not appearing in the nets.
“He’s a pretty relaxed guy and sometimes doesn’t bowl,” said Buttler, perhaps optimistically.
“The medical team will be seeing how he goes. He’s working hard with the medical team and they’ll be keeping a close eye on him.”
Provided by Press Association Sports