We’re right at the end of the Cricket World Cup group stages now and on Tuesday morning (08:30) we have an intriguing looking affair between Australia and Afghanistan, with both sides still having qualification in their own hands. We’ve taken a look at this match-up at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai and given you our betting predictions.
Two in-form sides square off in Mumbai as third-placed Australia (1/6) take on an Afghanistan (4/1) side, that can still themselves qualify if they win their two remaining games.
Following a disappointing start, Pat Cummins’ side have responded magnificently, winning five straight games including an important victory over defending champions England last time out. That win has made Australia’s task simple, win here and they are through.
It will be a really tough slog though against an Afghan outfit that have improved steadily though the tournament and have surpassed all expectations to sit in 6th spot and with a genuine chance of qualification for the semis.
If they can beat Australia and South Africa in their two remaining fixtures, they will be in the final four and no one gave them a hope of achieving that pre-tournament.
Great news for Australia as Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell are back with the squad and available for selection, after missing the England match due to personal problems and concussion respectively. Steve Smith has been suffering from some vertigo-related issues during the week but should be ok to feature here.
Australia (probable): David Warner, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Steve Smith, Josh Inglis (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa
After three wins on the spin for Afghanistan, it looks very likely they will stick with an unchanged team. If they do decide to leave out one of their four spinners however, it will likely be Noor Ahmad who is left out to accommodate Naveen-ul-Haq.
Afghanistan (probable): Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hasmatullah Shahidi (c), Azmatullah Omarzai, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq
Afghanistan to win – 4/1
This has been a World Cup of shocks and I think we might get one to top them all on Tuesday morning.
This Afghanistan side are playing without fear and will go into this match firmly believing they can beat Australia.
Yes the powerhouse nation is on great form but they have shown vulnerabilities themselves, especially against spin – something Afghanistan have an absolute job-lot of.
Afghanistan’s batting line up has also looked way more secure in recent games, dropping just eight wickets in their three successful run chases and spreading the runs around the side.
If the Afghans can make early inroads in to this Australian batting line up, we should have a proper game on our hands.
Mujeeb Ur-Rahman top AFG wicket taker – 7/2
One man who will be crucial to that early success, is the 22-year-old off spinner Mujeeb Ur-Rahman.
Possessing multiple variations that can move the ball into and away from the right hander, Ur-Rahman bowls quickly and is extremely hard to pick.
The Afghanistan trickster already has 100 wickets in ODI’s and a best bowling analysis of 5/50. Working as part of a three or sometimes four-pronged spin attack, I expect him to trouble Australia’s top and middle order here.