Pakistan and Afghanistan will face each other in a crucial match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 on Monday, October 23, at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. Both teams are in a must-win situation to keep their hopes of qualifying for the semifinals alive. Here are some predictions and tips for the PAK vs AFG match based on the current form, stats and head-to-head records of the two teams.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have played seven ODIs against each other, with Pakistan winning all of them. However, most of these matches have been closely contested, with four of them decided by less than 10 runs or wickets. The last time they met in an ODI was in the 2019 World Cup, when Pakistan chased down 228 with two balls to spare, thanks to a heroic knock by Imad Wasim. Afghanistan have never beaten Pakistan in any format of international cricket, but they have come close on several occasions.
Pakistan are coming off two consecutive defeats against India and Australia, which have dented their confidence and net run rate. They are currently fifth in the points table with four points from five matches. They need to win their remaining four games and hope for other results to go their way to make it to the last four. Pakistan’s batting has been inconsistent, with only Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan scoring consistently. Their bowling has also been underwhelming, with Shaheen Afridi being the only standout performer.
Afghanistan are also in a precarious position, having lost three of their five matches so far. They are sixth in the table with four points. They stunned England by 69 runs in their third match, but were thrashed by New Zealand by 149 runs in their last outing. Afghanistan’s batting has been their Achilles heel, as they have failed to post or chase big totals. Their bowling, however, has been impressive, with Rashid Khan leading the way with 10 wickets at an economy rate of 4.05.
Babar Azam: The Pakistan captain is the leading run-scorer of the tournament so far, with 375 runs from five matches at an average of 93.75 and a strike rate of 94.93. He has scored two centuries and two fifties, including a brilliant 112 against Australia in Bengaluru. He will be the key to Pakistan’s batting, as he can anchor the innings and accelerate when needed. He will also have to deal with the spin threat of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Rashid Khan: The Afghanistan leg-spinner is the joint-highest wicket-taker of the tournament so far, with 10 wickets from five matches at an average of 18.80 and a strike rate of 28.20. He has been economical and lethal, picking up crucial wickets in every match. He took 4 for 47 against England in Delhi and 3 for 13 against Pakistan in Sharjah. He will be the main weapon for Afghanistan, as he can trouble any batsman with his variations and accuracy.
Pakistan have the edge over Afghanistan based on their head-to-head record and experience, but they cannot afford to take them lightly. Afghanistan have shown that they can upset any team on their day, especially with their spin bowling. The pitch in Chennai is expected to be slow and low, which will suit both teams’ bowling styles. The toss will be crucial, as batting second might be difficult under lights. The team that bats first will have to post a competitive total and defend it well.
Pakistan vs Afghanistan is a crucial match for both teams in the World Cup 2023, as they need to win to stay alive in the race for the semifinals. Pakistan have the advantage of having won all their previous ODIs against Afghanistan, but they cannot afford to be complacent. Afghanistan have shown that they can challenge any team with their spin bowling, but they need to improve their batting. The match will be decided by how well both teams adapt to the conditions in Chennai and perform under pressure.
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