World Cup 2019 Preview: Afghanistan Aim For Positive Finish Against Dismal West Indies
With little more than pride to play for, Afghanistan or the West Indies could sign off with a win.
Afghanistan haven't won a single game in eight matches of World Cup
They will aim to finish on a high in their last league stage match
West Indies made a promising start with a seven-wicket win over Pakistan
Afghanistan, despite giving scares to India and Pakistan, haven't won a single game in eight matches of the World Cup 2019. Now with nothing to lose, bottom-placed Afghanistan will aim to finish on a high in their last league stage match against the West Indies at Headingley in Leeds on Thursday. West Indies made a promising start with a seven-wicket win over Pakistan, who then made a remarkable comeback to stay afloat in the tournament, but faltered after that with six losses and a wash out.
Afghanistan beat a star studded West Indian side comprising power hitters like Chris Gayle, Carlos Brathwaite and Shai Hope twice in the World Cup qualifiers, held in Harare last year.
For both Afghanistan and the West Indies, the tournament has been a case of so near yet so far.
Afghanistan, who have proved time and again they can't be written off as minnows, gave heavyweights India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka a run for their money during the tournament. All three sides struggled against the potent Afghan bowling attack that boasts the likes of Mohammed Nabi, Mujeeb ur Rahman and Rashid Khan.
For the West Indies, it was heartbreak for the third time when they came close to another big scalp against Sri Lanka on Monday. They had earlier squandered their chances of beating reigning champions Australia, followed by Carlos Brathwaite falling just short of what could have been a match-winning six against New Zealand.
"It is disappointing to come so close on a number of stages and not get that win," West Indies captain Jason Holder said after the defeat to Sri Lanka.
Both teams are out of contention for the semi-finals with Afghanistan sitting at the bottom of the points table and West Indies at the penultimate spot.
West Indies, the winners of the first two World Cups back in 1975 and 1979, have faced seven straight defeats in the tournament after starting their campaign by demolishing Pakistan in their opening game. A win in their final match will be a nice way to exit the big stage.
Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib will marshal his troops once again and will hope his spinners weave their magic one last time before they head back home.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Chris Gayle, Shai Hope (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Carlos Brathwaite, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas, Kemar Roach, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Sunil Ambris, Evin Lewis, Shannon Gabriel, Darren Bravo, Fabian Allen.
Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (capt), Sayed Ahmad Shirzad, Hazratullah Zazai, Asghar Afghan, Rashid Khan, Mohammed Nabi, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Dawlat Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Samiullah Shinwari, Rahmat Shah, Noor Ali Zadran, Ikram Alikhil (wk).
The match starts at 3 pm IST.
(With PTI inputs)