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Match Preview – Afghanistan vs Namibia, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 27th Match, Group 2

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Associate nation will be keen to pull off another upset

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Namibia added another historic day to their journey with a win against Scotland in their first Super 12s game. In many ways, that was one of their easier games, if only because it was the third time they were playing Scotland in October. From here on in, life won’t be as familiar. Their next opponents, Afghanistan, are the only team in the group that had any proximity to the Associate scene over the last decade. Even then, the last time these teams played each other was in 2017.

In a tangible sense, that would make Sunday very hard on Namibia, especially, the quality of spin that Afghanistan have, in conditions that favour them. But from a more optimistic lens, it’s a chance for them to try and spring some surprises of their own. They did have to beat a Test-playing nation in Ireland to get this far in the World Cup, and beating another one will be a feat they’ll look forward to.

The hurdle is that Afghanistan have some big-ticket T20 names in their ranks – players who have traveled the world and showed their wares, particularly in the UAE, and who ran the best team of the World Cup so far close on Friday. That loss against Pakistan came swiftly and crushingly in the end, and the fact that they’ll have no time to dwell on it is a potential advantage for them.

Form guide

Afghanistan LWWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Namibia WWWLW

In the spotlight

Hazratullah Zazai has two ducks and two 40-plus scores since Afghanistan arrived in the UAE for the World Cup. The latest of those ducks came against Pakistan and forced Afghanistan’s top order to take a more risky approach at the start, resulting in a sub-par powerplay in which they lost four wickets. His exploits as opener are key for Afghanistan to set up more challenging totals.
JJ Smit has quietly been one of Namibia’s most valuable players in the tournament so far. In their last five matches, Smit has batted four times without being out, and has done a tidy holding job as first-change bowler, conceding no more than the mid-to-late 20s in all those spells. He isn’t their best batter, bowler, or allrounder, but his utility has allowed Namibia to keep control once they’ve got it.

Team news

Afghanistan could be inclined to leave Karim Janat out after he endured four sixes at the hands of Asif Ali on Friday. The experience of Hamid Hassan might be a tempting replacement option, but they also have left-arm seamer Fareed Ahmad should they want more variety in the line-up.

Afghanistan: (possible) 1 Hazratullah Zazai, 2 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 3 Rahmanullah Gurbaz, 4 Najibullah Zadran, 5 Mohammad Nabi (capt), 6 Asghar Afghan, 7 Gulbadin Naib, 8 Karim Janat/Hamid Hassan/Fareed Ahmad, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Naveen-ul-Haq, 11 Mujeeb-ur-Rahman.

Namibia have been unchanged for two games and are likely to stay that way.

Namibia: (possible) 1 Craig Williams, 2 Zane Green (wk), 3 Gerhard Erasmus (capt.), 4 David Wiese, 5 Michael van Lingen, 6 JJ Smit, 7 Jan Frylinck, 8 Pikky Ya France, 9 Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, 10 Ruben Trumpelmann, 11 Bernard Scholtz

Pitch and conditions

The forecast has Abu Dhabi’s temperature hovering about 32 degree celsius during the start of this afternoon fixture. As always, the surface is expected to favour the spinners, and the long boundaries make this ground a bowling captain’s favourite. Anything more than a par score will take really good batting.

Stats and trivia

  • The average first innings score in Abu Dhabi during the World Cup has been 127. In all cricket played there this year, the average is 162.
  • In 2021, no team has scored as quickly as Afghanistan have. Their average run rate is 9.1 and they hit a boundary every five balls; the next best team is England, with an average scoring rate of 8.6 and a boundary every 5.7 balls.
  • Namibia have bowled 72.3 overs at the World Cup so far, and 40.3 of them have been from left-arm fast bowlers; the left-armers have taken 14 wickets and have an economy of 6.4 at the moment.

Quotes

“When he injured his finger during the warm-up games, it was a massive blow for us. The initial report from the specialist was for him to return home for an operation. And he will still get that when he’s back but he has decided to stay on and our medical staff is managing that finger as best as we can. So far, his decision to stay on has really paid off. He’s an inspirational leader and he’s put together a few great performances and hopefully that finger can stay intact for another few games. Then, he’ll probably head home to the [operation] theatre and a long recovery period.”
Albie Morkel, Namibia’s assistant coach, talks about Gerhard Erasmus’ resolve

“The mood in the camp is a bit dull at the moment. When you lose a close game, it is like this, but you have to get back. We have to back Karim [Janat]. It can happen to anybody, as it has happened before. So we will get back soon.”
Fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq talks about the mood after the Pakistan loss

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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BBL11 2021-22 – Bowling attack gives Melbourne Renegades hope of revival

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The batting remains questionable and they will be looking for the youngsters to develop

Captain Nic Maddinson
Coach David Saker

Squad
Cameron Boyce, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Josh Lalor, Shaun Marsh, Jono Merlo (replacement player), James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, James Seymour (replacement player), Will Sutherland, Nic Maddinson, Reece Topley (Eng), Unmukt Chand (Ind), Mohammad Nabi (Afg), Zahir Khan (Afg)

In Nic Maddinson, Jono Merlo, James Seymour, Reece Topley, Unmukt Chand, Zahir Khan
Out Beau Webster, Peter Hazloglou, Jon Holland, Benny, Howell, Noor Ahmed, Imran Tahir, Imad Wasim

Last season

It was another disastrous season for the Renegades finishing last for the second straight year. They won their first match and then lost seven in a row. Their batting was abysmal, bowled out for less than 90 on three occasions and 111 in another match against Adelaide. The bowling was nowhere near as effective as season’s past and they struggled to find a consistent unit as they mixed and matched their overseas players. There was one bright spot as they produced a brilliant chasing win over Melbourne Stars late in the season. Mackenzie Harvey starred smashing 47 not out from 21 balls to give a glimpse into the future.
International impact
Renegades have been severely impacted by both Australia selection and injury. Nic Maddinson‘s selection in the Australia A side to face England Lions means the new Renegades captain won’t get a chance to lead his new club until their fourth game at the earliest. Marcus Harris is set to miss most of the season due to Test duty. Aaron Finch is in doubt for the early games due to his ongoing knee issue while Shaun Marsh is set to miss at least half the tournament due to a calf tear. England does have tour of West Indies in the new year and Afghanistan is scheduled to visit Bangladesh but it is unknown if the likes of Reece Topley, Mohammad Nabi or Zahir Khan will need to leave the BBL early.
Player to watch
Reece Topley is an important recruit for Renegades and has a chance to make a serious statement to England selectors ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia next year. Fellow Englishman Harry Gurney was a key part of Renegades’ run to the title three years ago and Topley has a similar opportunity to cause havoc on the inconsistent home surface of Marvel Stadium.

Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)
Renegades were the worst bowling unit in the previous BBL edition. Their bowling economy rate of 8.61 was the highest among all teams and their death bowling economy was 11.24. If Renegades want to play finals, this is an area they need to focus on. Their attack certainly looks stronger this season

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Chris Gayle farewell on the cards with Jamaica set to host West Indies-Ireland series

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The series will comprise three ODIs and a one-off T20I, all at Sabina Park

West Indies will play three ODIs and a T20I against Ireland in Jamaica from January 8 to 16, the CWI has announced, with the possibility that the standalone T20I will be used as a farewell match for Chris Gayle.

While Gayle will not be part of the ODI squad, with the series counting towards 2023 World Cup qualification through the Super League, the one-off fixture at Sabina Park could be used as his farewell game. ESPNcricinfo understands that a decision has yet to be made on Gayle’s inclusion but that the issue will be up for discussion at the next meeting of CWI’s board of directors later this month.

“It’s whether collectively we all feel that it’s appropriate for him to have one last game at home to say farewell in a one-off game,” Johnny Grave, CWI’s chief executive, told the Mason and Guest radio show in Barbados last month. “That Ireland series would represent that opportunity.

“It would certainly be appropriate, as far as I can see it, to treat our players and give them the opportunity to bow out – especially players like Chris who have had unbelievable careers and won trophies for the West Indies.”

Ireland will travel to the Caribbean on December 31, immediately after their series against USA which starts on December 22 and comprises two T20Is and three ODIs. They have already named their squads for both tours, with Kevin O’Brien left out and David Ripley taking temporary charge as interim head coach.
Ireland last toured the Caribbean in 2020, drawing the T20I series 1-1 and losing the ODI series 3-0. Sabina Park was also the venue for one of the finest moments in Irish cricketing history, their victory over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup on St Patrick’s Day.

“We are pleased to be returning to the Caribbean where we have so many great memories,” Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland’s performance director, said. “The World Cup Super League is a crucial set of fixtures for Ireland as we attempt to qualify for the next Cricket World Cup, and – if the series in 2020 is anything to go by – we look forward to a highly competitive series in January.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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Bangladesh tour of NZ BCB approves Shakib Al Hasan’s request to skip New Zealand tour

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Nazmul Hassan says BCB has no problem with players wanting a break, but says it should happen via official channels

BCB president Nazmul Hassan said on Monday that the board has accepted Shakib Al Hasan‘s leave request to skip the New Zealand tour for which Bangladesh are scheduled to leave later this week. Some days ago, Hassan claimed that Shakib only informed them “unofficially” of his reluctance to be on the tour, and hours later, Shakib reportedly had requested the board by handing over a letter officially.

“We have accepted his request,” Hassan said. “We have been saying this for a long time that we have no objection if a player wants to take a break or rest, but it has to be informed officially. The thing is, we want to be informed about such a decision in advance as it is difficult for us if it is informed suddenly. From January, if anyone wants a break, he has to inform us in advance so that we can prepare alternatives.”

This is the third time in 2021 that Shakib has skipped a tour for Bangladesh. He opted out of the white-ball tour of New Zealand in March due to paternity leave before missing the two Tests against Sri Lanka in April to play in the IPL.

Hassan felt Shakib should have asked for the leave officially, rather than informing them verbally.

“This [the confusion] is not embarrassing, to be honest. We simply didn’t know about it, officially,” Hassan said. “The thing is, these things have always happened unofficially. Now, to avoid confusion, we are emphasising that these matters should be official.”

Bangladesh’s tour of New Zealand includes two Tests, part of the World Test Championship, beginning on New Year’s Day. The team will leave on December 9 to complete quarantine and then play practice matches.



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