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Afghanistan in focus ahead of Old Trafford clash with England

Mohammad Nabi’s men have lost all four of their matches at the World Cup so far.

Afghanistan have underwhelmed at the World Cup (Mark Kerton/PA)
Afghanistan have underwhelmed at the World Cup (Mark Kerton/PA)

Afghanistan may not yet have caused the upsets that many were expecting of them at the World Cup but they could provide stiff opposition for England on Tuesday.

The tournament qualifiers have lost all four of their opening games but a used pitch at Old Trafford could play into their hands in the right circumstances.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at England’s opponents.

Spin it to win it

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Mohammad Nabi took four wickets against Sri Lanka but he, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman have flattered to deceive so far (David Davies/PA)

It was anticipated that the twirling trio of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman would make an impact but they have flattered to deceive so far with just eight wickets between them. In truth some of the pitches they have played on have not been conducive to spin and the recent wet weather has hardly helped. Mujeeb has been omitted from their last two defeats but should return for a fixture that will be played on the same 22-yard strip that was used for India’s victory over Pakistan on Sunday and which, it is hoped, will offer something for the turners.

Tournament so far

The group stage table makes for grim reading with a total of zero points earned. They were rarely able to stretch Australia and New Zealand in seven-wicket defeats but in-between those results, an inability to chase down 187 in 41 overs against Sri Lanka may have sent them into something of a tailspin. They were simply not at the races against previously winless South Africa, rolled out for 125, a total overhauled with nine wickets and more than 21 overs to spare.

Misfiring batters

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Mohammad Shahzad’s tournament-ending knee injury was a blow for Afghanistan (Nigel French/PA)

Afghanistan’s fruitless start to the campaign can be traced back to their batsmen’s inability to post anything approaching a competitive total. Having batted first on three occasions, their highest score is the 207 they made against Australia in Bristol, which leaves their more vaunted bowling line-up little margin for error. There have been flashes of promise but little substance, and Mohammad Shahzad’s tournament-ending knee injury was a bitter blow.

Star man

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Rashid Khan could make his mark in the tournament against England (Nigel French/PA)

Afghanistan were soundly beaten by nine wickets by their next opponents in a warm-up at the Oval last month although that is highly unlikely to have a bearing on their next showdown. Even so, it was telling that while Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow were peppering the boundary rope with gusto, they were largely watchful of Rashid, the number three ranked one-day international bowler in the world. On a worn surface this may be the moment for the leg-spinner to announce himself to the tournament.

PA

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