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Gulbadin Naib: Afghanistan need spin to win in England clash

Captain takes encouragement from India’s defeat of Pakistan at Old Trafford.

Gulbadin Naib hopes for a helpful Old Trafford track (Nigel French/PA)
Gulbadin Naib hopes for a helpful Old Trafford track (Nigel French/PA)

Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib is hoping for a spin-friendly Old Trafford surface as he plots an underdog success over England.

The tournament hosts and world number ones are rampant favourites on paper, with Afghanistan bottom of the standings after four defeats in four games.

But Gulbadin found some reason for cheer when watching India’s defeat of Pakistan on Sunday, which took place on the same surface and gave some encouragement for the rival spinners.

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Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib is hoping spin can maintain his smile against England (Nigel French/PA)

Afghanistan’s game plan is built around their star leg-spinner Rashid Khan, backed up by Mohammad Nabi and Rahmat Shah.

“We are looking for the spin, every game,” Gulbadin said on the eve of the match.

“If the wicket is like the one India and Pakistan played on, which slightly turned, with this kind of turn maybe every team is in trouble against Afghanistan.

“Not only England or others. If there is a little bit of spin there, maybe it’s a good day for Afghanistan.”

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Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan has yet to find top form in the World Cup (Nigel French/PA)

Star man Rashid is the top wicket-taker in one-day cricket in the four years since the last World Cup but has yet to impose himself on this competition, taking just three wickets at 38.

His record suggests a big performance is just around the corner and Gulbadin needs no reminding of his qualities.

“Rashid is not like other bowlers who bowl normally, he’s an attacking bowler,” said the all-rounder.

“Every time he’s attacking. But one thing that’s bad is the surfaces have not suited him. If they slightly turned, you’ll find Rashid is a key bowler and he’s also key for the success of Afghanistan.”

The surfaces have not suited him. If they slightly turned, you'll find Rashid is a key bowler and he's also key for the success of Afghanistan Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib

Gulbadin regards Jason Roy’s enforced absence from the game as a positive omen, following the Surrey man’s 89 not out in 46 balls in a pre-tournament warm-up between the sides.

“It’s good luck for us Jason Roy is not playing. Roy is one of the best players now in the world now,” he said.

“The last two years, he has been world class.”

PA

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