5 talking points ahead of England’s clash with Afghanistan at Old Trafford
England are looking for their fourth win of the World Cup while Afghanistan are still searching for their first points.
England’s World Cup campaign continues when they take on Afghanistan at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at some of the topics of discussion.
In comes Vince
Jason Roy’s hamstring tear will preclude his involvement for England’s next two fixtures but, as he remains a part of the 15-man party, his long-term availability is a conversation for another time. His absence for now opens the door for James Vince and though the Hampshire captain is a capable understudy, he has exceeded 50 only once in 10 one-day internationals. And yes, he may be the owner of the most aesthetically pleasing cover drive in the land but he lacks the panache of Roy and Jonny Bairstow, who have set the tone for some mammoth innings since forming a highly successful union two years ago. Vince, then, has some big shoes to fill.
When captain Eoin Morgan followed Roy in trudging off the field against the West Indies at the Hampshire Bowl, clutching his back, there was a feeling fortune was conspiring against England. Morgan was quick to allay any fears and revealed that he is likely to play in Manchester unless he suffers a setback on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. It is welcome news, ensuring any changes – and thus unnecessary disruption – to the batting order is minimal and means Jos Buttler, while more than adept at stepping in for Morgan, can fully focus on his wicketkeeping and electrifying batting.
A used pitch
One of the main subplots of this encounter is that it will be played on the same 22-yard strip that was used for India’s victory over arch rivals and neighbours Pakistan 48 hours previously. Ordinarily, a worn surface typically plays into the hands of spinners, a particular strength of Afghanistan, but the wet weather in the area of late may nullify that. England, though, should be braced for the triple threat of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who has been notable by his omission in Afghanistan’s last two fixtures but faces a recall.
In a spin
Afghanistan’s twirling trio were expected to spearhead their campaign and perhaps cause an upset or two, with Rashid, the number three-ranked ODI bowler in the world, leading the charge. It has not quite turned out that way with Rashid, Nabi and Mujeeb contributing just eight wickets in Afghanistan’s four opening matches, all of which they have lost. There are caveats to that, with their batting largely to blame for their current malaise – their best score is currently 207, leaving the bowlers little room for manoeuvre – but there is little doubt the spinners have under-performed.
Eyes on the skies
The inclement weather has regrettably become more of a talking point than anyone would have wanted with four washouts – a tournament record – while the India-Pakistan clash was affected by the occasional shower. Unfortunately, more rain is forecast in Manchester as the day wears on though the first innings is likely to be dry, meaning the team chasing faces the prospect of interruptions and a Duckworth-Lewis-Stern amended total.