Australia look to negate Afghanistan’s spin threat in Saint Vincent

Adam Zampa will be key for Australia

Saint Vincent is renowned for its resorts, gardens and sand-based beaches. Amid all the scenic surroundings, something else would be bothering the Australian team: Playing Afghanistan, in the ICC T20 World Cup, in what could be spin-friendly conditions at the Arnos Vale stadium. In the last two games played at this ground, South Africa just about defended a total of 115 versus Nepal, while Bangladesh pipped Nepal by 21 runs in another of those low-scoring matches. Needless to say, the spinners had a jolly good time playing on surfaces that provided enough assistance.

There is no doubt that the Australian think-tank would be zeroing in on plans to negate the threat of Rashid Khan, Noor Ahmed, Mohammed Nabi and probably even Mujeeb Ur Rahman. And also trying to put all the plans into practice in net sessions. The encouraging part for Australia is that their opening duo of Travis Head and David Warner have been in the groove. 

Marcus Stoinis has been their mainstay, when it comes to power-hitting. The Australian camp would hope and believe that Mitchell Marsh, the skipper, and Glenn Maxwell would get back to their best. Spin-friendly climes also bring Adam Zampa into the equation. The ace leg-spinner has the second most wickets in this tournament. 

Meanwhile, it isn’t just the spinners who will be looking to pick up truckloads of wickets in Saint Vincent, as there is also Fazalhaq Farooqi. The left-arm pace bowler has gained a reputation of making an inroad or two in his opening over. He doesn’t just have the ability to generate swing, but his skiddy style of bowling could turn out to be a handful on a track that could stay on the lower side.

Even though Australia would still be counted as the slight favourites, this is one venue where Afghanistan would believe they have a window of opportunity to upset the apple-cart. On the other hand, a win for Australia could very well power them to the last-four stage of the tournament.

Probable XI

Australia: David Warner, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh (c), Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Tim David, Matthew Wade (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa.

Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Azmatullah Omarzai, Gulbadin Naib, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan (c), Noor Ahmed, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi.

Weather and pitch conditions: There could be a few light rain showers in the morning, but as the day progresses, it is expected to clear up. The pitch is set to assist the spinners and pace bowlers who employ cutters.