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Afghanistan ready for Another Pace Challenge in Hambantota

Afghanistan prepares to face another stern test against pace as they gear up to clash with Pakistan in Hambantota, anticipating yet another challenging battle on the cricket field.

After the first ODI, Ramiz Raja compared Pakistan’s fast bowlers to the great West Indian fast bowlers from the 1980s. He also talked about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Even though the comparison might not seem the same as art, the actual game was really impressive. Ramiz Raja watched with amazement as the Pakistani fast bowlers quickly got rid of Afghanistan’s batsmen. They played very aggressively and made the game exciting on a slow pitch in Hambantota.

On a slow and lifeless wicket, before the spinners could make their mark, the Pakistani pacers including Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, and Mohammad Wasim Jr. (who was left out of the XI) showcased their prowess. The Afghan spinners managed an impressive nine-wicket haul, and the hosts even bowled out Pakistan for the first time in ODIs, but these accomplishments were overshadowed by Pakistan’s pace attack.

The second ODI, scheduled for Thursday, is anticipated to present similar challenges for the batsmen from both teams. With only two matches remaining before the Asia Cup, Pakistan seems to have settled on their best lineup. Despite the substantial margin of victory, Pakistan acknowledges that their batting struggled against Afghanistan’s spinners. While some experimentation might happen with the reserve bowlers, the batting order is expected to remain consistent.

Afghanistan, while currently finding it challenging to face Pakistan’s pace attack, has an opportunity to prepare better for the upcoming clash on Thursday. The pitch conditions are predicted to be similar, offering a slow and sluggish surface. The weather might bring a brief shower, but overall, sunny conditions are expected.

Match Details:

  • Date: Thursday, August 24, 2023
  • Time: 3:00 PM Local Time
  • Venue: Hambantota

Team Preparations:
Afghanistan is likely to maintain an unchanged side, although they might consider introducing Noor Ahmad as an additional spin option due to Pakistan’s struggle against spin.

Pakistan could provide some game time to Mohammad Wasim Jr. and Mohammad Nawaz. These players might not be in the XI for the Asia Cup and the World Cup if all players are fit.

Expected Lineups:
Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Ikram Alikhil, Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Abdul Rahman, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi

Pakistan: Imam ul Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Agha Salman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Usama Mir, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf/Mohammad Wasim Jr.

Player Statements:
Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi expressed disappointment in his team’s shot-selection but commended the bowlers’ performance. He emphasized the need for smarter shot choices in the next game.

Pakistan pacer Haris Rauf, who secured his maiden ODI fifer, attributed his success to exploiting the pitch conditions with hard length bowling, reflecting the team’s collective belief.

The cricket world eagerly anticipates the second ODI clash, where the battle between Afghanistan’s struggling batting lineup and Pakistan’s fiery pace attack will continue.

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