T20 World Cup 2024: Afghanistan strongest predicted playing XI against New Zealand, Match 14

Jun 7, 2024

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Afghanistan Team. (Photo Source: ICC)

After a massive victory over Uganda in their opening game, Afghanistan will next challenge New Zealand on June 08 in the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024. The Rashid Khan-led side demolished Uganda, restricting the side to 58 runs in the previous match, and that should give the bowlers a lot of confidence against New Zealand, who are one of the title contenders. The Kane Williamson-led side always delivers on the biggest stage, and it won’t be easy for Afghanistan, but they remain confident.

Afghan openers Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz were on song against Uganda, but New Zealand bowlers won’t give them much room. The middle order batters need to step up and put up a show, which they couldn’t in the last match. The bowlers looked good, and the surface in Guyana will suit them as well. So, will there be any changes to their playing XI or the team management will back the winning combination? Let’s figure it out:

Openers – Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran

Gurbaz and Zadran looked flawless in the last match. They stitched a partnership of 154 runs and that ruled Uganda out of the competition. Gurbaz smacked 76 runs off 45 balls and he would prefer to play the same brand of cricket in the match against New Zealand. The keeper-batter plays an aggressive brand of cricket and it needs to be seen how well he can do against quality bowlers of New Zealand.

His opening partner Zadran made 70 runs off 46 balls. He looked in great touch as well and if he manages to continue in the same manner, Rashid Khan & Co will be more than happy. It won’t be easy against Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Lockie Ferguson, but he has the quality to deliver.

Middle order: Najibullah Zadran

Batting at number three, Najibullah Zadran failed to deliver in the last match. The experienced batter would be gunning to perform against New Zealand as Afghanistan need him to deliver. The 31-year-old has played 103 T20I matches and has made 1810 runs at a strike rate of 138.37. He is likely to play the role of an anchor but can accelerate if needed.

All-rounders – Gulbadin Naib, Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan

Gulbadin Naib represented Afghanistan in 66 matches and has made 811 runs at a strike rate of 124.57. His batting numbers need to increase but bowling might come in handy. The 33-year-old has 26 wickets to his name in T20Is and can deliver in the middle overs.

Veteran Mohammad Nabi is one of Afghanistan’s greats. He has delivered for the team time and again and needs to do that again in this tournament as Afghanistan are part of a group that also features West Indies and New Zealand. To progress to the next round, the team needs to beat at least one of these teams but it won’t be an easy task. Nabi’s experience will be key.

Azmatullah Omarzai was the best player for the Asian giants in the ODI World Cup. He was ruthless with both bat and bowl and even in the last match against Uganda, the all-rounder did a commendable job. He couldn’t make most of the opportunity with the bat but was economical with the ball. The 24-year-old needs to do that once again.

Skipper Rashid Khan is the biggest match-winner the Afghans have in their squad. He is arguably one of the greatest players in the shortest format of the game and New Zealand may face difficulty in playing him. Rashid’s presence too will boost Afghanistan’s confidence. The star all-rounder can also play handy knocks with the bat, which may prove to be crucial.

Bowlers – Karim Janat, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi

Karim Janat, Naveen-ul-Haq and Fazalhaq Farooqi will take care of the pace department. Farooqi meanwhile picked up five wickets in the last match and was also adjudged Player of the Match. He can very well adjust to the conditions, which is a massive positive.

Naveen meanwhile can pick wickets in the middle overs and has experience of playing big matches. He picked up two wickets giving away just four runs in his two overs against Uganda. This would boost his confidence ahead of the New Zealand match. Karim Janat meanwhile didn’t bowl or bat in the last match but can do well in both departments.

Mujeeb will partner with Rashid and Nabi in the spin department. All three of them are quality spinners and can be very effective against New Zealand. Notably, Mujeeb represented Afghanistan in 46 T20Is and picked up 59 wickets at an economy of 6.35.

Afghanistan’s Playing XI:

Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Karim Janat, Rashid Khan (c), Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi

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