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Match Preview – Afghanistan vs Scotland, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 17th Match, Group 2

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Both teams come into the Super 12s on the back of impressive performances

Big Picture

Coming into the second stage of a T20 World Cup already means you’ve had quite a journey, from succeeding in the qualifiers against tough competition, and then succeeding again in the first round against tougher competition, before you get to mix with the big boys.

Afghanistan know that journey, having been part of the Associate cricket world not too long ago. Scotland have lived that journey, and now find themselves with a chance to make a further statement if they can beat the team that’s been the poster child for rising through the ranks. While Afghanistan will be the favoured side in this contest, especially because of their bowling strength, Scotland have the edge in preparation. They’ve had three games to test their resilience as well as flex their might, and are coming into the Super 12s as primed as can be.

On the other hand, though Afghanistan did play two warm-up games, they haven’t had the easiest preparation, and had visa issues before the squad assembled too. At the back of the minds of all the squad members will be the volatile situation back home. Whether that becomes a burden that stifles, or hardens their resolve to provide some cheer to fans in Afghanistan in grim times, we’ll know soon.

Form guide

Afghanistan WWWTW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Scotland WWWLW

In the spotlight

He was appointed captain in rather chaotic circumstances, when Rashid Khan stepped down minutes after Afghanistan’s squad was announced, but Mohammad Nabi was a leader – and former captain in any case – in the group earlier too. He was on point as bowler and captain in their second warm-up game, against West Indies, bowling his four overs in a row first up and proving to be nigh unplayable. Nabi bowled 22 dot balls out of 24, and conceded only two singles, taking 3 for 2. In Sharjah, where spinners have received purchase, he could be crucial with ball, with his power-hitting and his on-field generalship.
Josh Davey has been Scotland’s enforcer and controller both, so far in the T20 World Cup. The right-arm seamer has hit his rhythm well, troubling batsmen with accuracy and movement. He hasn’t always had a smooth ride in a career that began in 2010, but at 31, he has the experience without having lost his zing, to hit the sweet spot of effectiveness. With Afghanistan’s batting being top-heavy, Davey’s overs up front have the potential to give Scotland good leverage in the contest if he can strike early. He’s already taken eight wickets in three games, conceding runs at less than a run a ball.

Team news

Afghanistan’s opening combination of Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad showed how devastating they could be when a team missed its lengths, as West Indies found out in the warm-up game between the two. Their pairing at the top is what Afghanistan will rely on while batting. The bowling is already well manned with Nabi, Rashid and Mujeeb ur Rahman almost guaranteeing 12 high-quality overs.

Afghanistan (probable): 1 Hazratullah Zazai, 2 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 3 Rahmanullah Gurbaz, 4 Najibullah Zadran, 5 Asghar Afghan, 6 Mohammad Nabi (capt), 7 Karim Janat, 8 Gulbadin Naib, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 11 Naveen ul Haq

Scotland’s progress so far has been of the best kind, because it’s not been overly dependent on one single individual. Different people have stood up at different times, which gives the team a well-rounded look. They will look to Davey, the pacy Brad Wheal and the canny Mark Watt to rein Afghanistan in, while the likes of Richie Berrington and George Munsey will have to marshal the batting against a potent attack.

Scotland (probable): 1 George Munsey, 2 Kyle Coetzer (capt), 3 Matthew Cross (wk), 4 Richie Berrington, 5 Calum MacLeod, 6 Michael Leask, 7 Chris Greaves, 8 Mark Watt, 9 Josh Davey, 10 Safyaan Sharif, 11 Brad Wheal

Pitch and conditions

While the pitches at Sharjah, during the IPL and the first round of the T20 World Cup were slow and difficult to get big scores on, the match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka a day before this one, suggested that this was not always the norm. If the pitch does play better, the conditions swing towards batters because of the small boundaries. This is a night game, so dew might also come into play more.

Stats and trivia

  • Calum MacLeod once took 49 runs off Rashid Khan in an ODI – the second most any batter has taken against Rashid in an ODI. MacLeod had faced just 31 balls from Rashid in that game.
  • In six T20Is played between these two teams so far, Afghanistan have won each time, though they haven’t played each other in this format since 2016.

Quotes

“The fans are really waiting for the games because the only happiness in Afghanistan is cricket. If we do well in the tournament and win games, there will be lots of smiles on faces.”
Mohammad Nabi on what a good show by Afghanistan will mean to those back home.

“Just because we’re now into the Super 12s, I don’t think that changes much for us. I think we’ll come and play the aggressive type of cricket we want to play”
Calum MacLeod promises Scotland will continue to entertain.

Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Recent Match Report – Strikers vs Stars 48th Match 2021/22

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Melbourne Stars were strangled in the middle overs, with a late assault from Hilton Cartwright not proving enough

Adelaide Strikers 6 for 155 (Wells 73, Short 33, Hinchcliffe 2-21) beat Melbourne Stars 8 for 132 (Cartwright 49, Burns 25, Thornton 4-26) by 23 runs

The resurgent Adelaide Strikers are looming as a BBL finals darkhorse after leaping to fourth place on the points table with a comfortable 23-run win over Melbourne Stars at Adelaide Oval. After posting 6 for 155, Strikers banked their third successive victory when their attack, spearheaded by Henry Thornton (4 for 26), restricted the Stars to 8 for 132.
Only a late assault from Hilton Cartwright (49) prevented a landslide defeat for Stars, who got off to a flier before being strangled in the middle overs.

Glenn Maxwell (16) signalled his intentions early, slog-sweeping Matt Short for six off the first delivery he faced. The Stars skipper should have been on his bike reverse-sweeping later that over when Fawad Ahmed grassed a regulation catch at backward point. The damage wasn’t too serious though, and Strikers were relieved when Maxwell’s cameo ended via a 147kph thunderbolt from Thornton, triggering a 4 for 16 collapse.

Fawad redeemed himself when he was introduced in the powerplay, and enticed Marcus Stoinis to edge one to Short at first slip. Thornton then picked up his second scalp when Harry Nielsen snaffled a one-handed, diving catch to dismiss Beau Webster and have Stars reeling at 4 for 37, leaving too much ground for Cartwright and Joe Burns to recover.

Cartwright thumped Fawad for 24 in the 17th over – including three sixes – to give his side a faint sniff. But the power-hitting counterattack came too late, and Stars’ slender hopes ended when Cartwright was caught by Short in the deep off the impressive Thornton.

Earlier, Jonathan Wells stroked a career-best 73 to move to second place behind Ben McDermott on the competition’s run-scoring leaderboard. Short thumped a brisk 33 at the top but the home side’s batters were largely reigned in before Wells went big late.

English import Ian Cockbain was stumped when he was deceived by a Hinchliffe wrong ‘un on 17. Jake Weatherald battled for his 17, his scratchy, sluggish knock in contrast to Wells’ clean ball striking.

Wells was measured early before exploding from the moment the Strikers took the power surge in the 15th over. Wells dominated a 61-run fourth-wicket stand and crunched 40 of Strikers’ 50 runs from the last five overs to steal momentum back from the Stars.



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BBL 2021-22 – Australia release Mitchell Marsh, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Swepson, Michael Neser for BBL

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Jhye Richardson and Marcus Harris will remain with the Test team as concussion/Covid-19 stand-bys

The quartet will take a charter flight from Hobart to Melbourne on Sunday to join their respective squads with Swepson and Neser set to be available for Heat’s clash against Melbourne Stars on Sunday night at the MCG.

Jhye Richardson and Marcus Harris will remain with the Test team in Hobart until the end of the fifth Test as concussion/Covid-19 stand-bys.

Swepson and Neser will provide a boost for Heat who are languishing second last on the table with three games to go. They would need to win all three with Bash Boost points in each game and have other results go their way to play finals.

The Scorchers look set to lock away top spot and the return of Marsh and Inglis only makes them stronger favourites for the title. Marsh was the Player of the Match in three of five BBL matches he played before being called up to the Test squad with scores 100 not out, 86, 42 not out to go with four wickets.



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Bowlers, Wyllie give Australia comprehensive win over West Indies in U-19 World Cup opener

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In the other match, Sakuna Liyanage’s 85 and Dunith Wellalage’s five-for helped Sri Lanka beat Scotland

Australia 170 for 4 (Wyllie 86*, Radhakrishnan 31, Layne 1-19) beat West Indies 169 (Auguste 57, Clarke 37, Connolly 3-17, Whitney 3-20, Radhakrishnan 3-48) by six wickets

Australia began their U-19 World Cup campaign with a comprehensive six-wicket win over hosts West Indies in the opening game of the competition, chasing 170 with more than five overs to spare in Group D.

Right-arm seamer Whitney did the damage with the new ball, striking in the first over of the match to dismiss Matthew Nandu for a first-ball duck. He then found No. 3 Teddy Bishop’s top edge. That soon became 12 for 3 after the other new-ball bowler, William Salzmann, trapped the other opener Shaqkere Parris lbw.

However, a partnership of 95 for the fourth wicket brought West Indies back, albeit briefly. Wicketkeeper Rivaldo Clarke hit a 42-ball 37 with four fours in a busy innings, but it was the captain Ackeem Auguste who was more adventurous with his eight fours to score 57. Their stand took West Indies past 100 in the 21st over, but both soon succumbed to spin.

It was ambidextrous spinner Radhakrishnan, only bowling right-arm offspin on the day, who got the breakthrough when Clarke hit him to mid-off. Giovonte Depeiza then fell for a duck to Connolly’s left-arm spin when he was lbw looking to play across the line. Auguste then chose aggression instead of looking to rebuild with his new partner and Connolly had him caught at deep midwicket when he mistimed a slog sweep.

At 112 for 6, West Indies were once again in trouble with the end in sight. Radhakrishnan rattled the stumps twice, No. 10 batter Shiva Sankar scooped a catch back to Connolly, and Whitney finished the innings at 169 by forcing No. 9 McKenny Clarke (29) to mistime an aggressive shot to mid-off.

Like West Indies, Australia too lost their opener for a duck. Corey Miller chopped a fast Johann Layne delivery onto his stumps, and Sankar had No. 3 Isaac Higgins caught behind off a bottom edge.

But Connolly, playing his second U-19 World Cup, together with Wyllie put on a 53-run stand for the third wicket, which eased the pressure off Australia. After Connolly’s dismissal for 23 to the tall right-arm offspinner Onaje Amory, Wyllie put on another 75-run stand with the No. 5 Radhakrishan (31) even though the progress was slow due to a sluggish outfield caused by overnight rain.

Wyllie stood out in his Player-of-the-Match performance hitting eight fours in his 129-ball innings to see the game off. After Radhakrishnan’s dismissal, he took the charge in the company of Campbell Kellaway (10*) to seal the win by clipping a shot to the leg side. However, before the run could be completed, the umpire put his arm out for a front-foot no-ball from Nandu, forcing an anti-climactic end to the game.

Sri Lanka 218 (Liyanage 85, Fischer-Keogh 3-56, Jarvis 2-27) beat Scotland 178 (Jarvis 55, Wellalage 5-27, Daniel 2-16) by 40 runs

Despite reeling at 99 for 6, Sri Lanka were bailed out by their wicketkeeper-batter Liyanage who took the side to 218 even though they were bowled out in the 46th over.

Much of the damage to Sri Lanka was caused by Scotland’s right-arm seamer Jack Jarvis (2 for 27) inside the first ten overs and by left-arm spinner Oliver Davidson (2 for 50).
But Liyanage’s innings of three fours and four sixes kept the runs flowing despite wickets falling all around him. Right-arm seamer Sean Fischer-Keogh‘s three-for at the back end of the innings meant Scotland needed 219 to win.

However, Scotland were rattled by left-arm spinner Wellalage in the chase with wickets across different spells. With the Sri Lankan bowlers keeping things tight, along with no substantial partnership, Scotland could not keep up with the required run rate.

Jarvis shined with a 55 from the middle order but with no other batter crossing 20, they were far off the chase despite lasting 48.4 overs.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx



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