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Preview: T20 World Cup: Afghanistan vs. Australia - prediction, team news, series so far

:Headline: Preview: T20 World Cup: Afghanistan vs. Australia - prediction, team news, series so far:
Sports Mole previews the 2024 T20 World Cup match between Afghanistan and Australia, scheduled to be played at the Amos Vale Stadium on Sunday.
Sports Mole

Australia will look to keep their perfect record at the 2024 T20 World Cup intact when they take on Afghanistan at the Amos Vale Stadium in Kingstown on Sunday afternoon.

The Aussies can book their place in the next round with a win here, provided India beat Bangladesh in the other match in Group 1 of the Super Eight this weekend.


Match preview

After flying out the blocks with victories in their first three games, including a crucial one over New Zealand, Afghanistan have found it difficult to keep their momentum going, and enter this match following back-to-back defeats.

The first of those came against co-hosts the West Indies in the final round of group-stage matches, where a Nicholas Pooran masterclass led the Windies to a commanding 104-run victory in Saint Lucia.

In their first match of the Super Eights, the Blue Tigers suffered a 47-run loss to the tournament favourites India, despite another excellent performance from Fazalhaq Farooqi, who added another three wickets to his tally in the tournament.

With that, the Afghans now face a do-or-die situation, as a loss here could spell the end of their title hopes, even before they play their final match of the round against Bangladesh on Tuesday morning.

Afghanistan have only faced the ODI and Test champions once in a T20 World Cup competition, back in the 2022 edition, and that ended in a narrow four-run defeat at the Adelaide Oval.

Meanwhile, Australia's hopes of becoming the first side to hold world titles in all three formats of the game simultaneously are still alive, as they head into this match looking to secure a sixth win in a row in this competition.

After getting through the group stage with little fuss, the Baggy Greens kicked off the second round of the tournament with a 28-run victory over dark horse Bangladesh at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Friday morning.

The Aussies were rewarded for the brisk start given to them by David Warner and Travis Head, as DLS deemed that they were well ahead of target when the heavens opened up in the 12th over.

Despite their good work with the bat, the day belonged to paceman Pat Cummins, who etched his name in the World Cup history books by taking only the seventh T20 World Cup hat-trick since the tournament came into existence in 2007.

With that result, Australia have now won seven of their last eight T20 internationals in all competitions, and the major concern for the rest of the sides in the tournament will be that Mitchell Marsh's men seem to be getting better with each game.


Team News

Australia's top-order are starting to come good at the perfect time and the duo of Head and Warner are now up to fourth and sixth place in the leading run-scorer standings with 179 and 169 runs in five innings respectively.

While the headlines of the last match belonged to Cummins, Adam Zampa picked up another two wickets for the loss of just 24 runs. He is now the second-highest wicket-taker in the competition and will play a crucial role for the Aussies for the remainder of the tournament.

Whether Afghanistan make it beyond this stage of the competition, they have delivered some of the best individual player performances so far, and none more so than that of Farooqi, who is the out-and-out leading wicket-taker with 15 scalps in 18.2 overs.

Other players that have stood out for the Blue Tigers are Rashid Khan, who has nine wickets in five games and Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who held the top spot in runs scored since week two, though he has slipped to fifth since the start of the Super Eight.


Afghanistan squad: Rashid Khan (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Azmatullah Omarzai, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Ishaq, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Nangyal Kharoti, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Fareed Ahmad Malik.


Australia squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.


Series so far

Afghanistan

Match One: Afghanistan won by 125 runs
Afghanistan - 183/5 (20)
Uganda - 58 (16)

Match Two: Afghanistan won by 84 runs
Afghanistan - 159/6 (20)
New Zealand - 75 (15.2)

Match Three: Afghanistan won by 7 wickets
Papua New Guinea - 95 (19.5)
Afghanistan - 101/3 (15.1)

Match Four: Afghanistan lost by 104 runs
West Indies - 218/5 (20)
Afghanistan - 114 (16.2)

Match Five: Afghanistan lost by 47 runs
India - 181/8 (20)
Afghanistan - 134 (20)

Australia

Match One: Australia won by 39 runs
Australia - 164/5 (20)
Oman - 125/9 (20)

Match Two: Australia won by 36 runs
Australia - 201/7 (20)
England - 165/6 (20)

Match Three: Australia won by 9 wickets
Namibia - 72 (17)
Australia - 74/1 (5.4)

Match Four: Australia won by 5 wickets
Scotland - 180/5 (20)
Australia - 186/5 (19.4)

Match Five: Australia won by 28 runs (DLS method)
Bangladesh - 140/8 (20)
Australia - 100/2 (11.2) Target 73


We say: Australia to win

Based on performance up to this point in the competition, Australia look like the side to beat and seem to be getting better with each match they play. Indeed, Afghanistan are expected to give it their all here, as they always do, but we feel it will not be enough to overcome the formidable Aussies.

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