ODI World Cup 2023: Australia aims to tackle middle-order issues in the clash against Afghanistan
Australia faces Afghanistan in a crucial Cricket World Cup encounter as they seek to overcome their middle-order concerns and secure a spot in the semifinals.
As the World Cup semifinal seats quickly fill up, Australia aims to address its middle-order concerns and secure a spot in the final four when facing an ambitious Afghanistan team on Tuesday. With only two places left to be claimed in the tournament, the dominant Indian team is expected to top the points table, and South Africa has already secured qualification. Given that no other team poses a direct threat to Australia's progress to the semifinals, Pat Cummins' squad intends to seal the deal at the Wankhede Stadium, a venue known for its favorable batting conditions but also offering support to skilled bowlers who can exploit the pitch.
This clash promises to be an intriguing contest, with Afghanistan's array of spinners and resolute batsmen eager to make a strong statement against Australia. Notably, leg-spinner Adam Zampa leads the tournament with 19 wickets in seven matches. Australia needs just one win in their remaining two matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh to become the third semifinalist and, more importantly, distance themselves from the mid-table competition for the final spot.
Despite coming into the contest with five consecutive victories, the five-time champions have room for improvement, particularly in their middle-order performance. Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, who occupy the No. 3 and 4 positions, have only managed a combined total of three fifties in seven matches, raising concerns for the team.
David Warner has been the standout performer at the top, while Travis Head's strong start to the World Cup provides hope for a solid beginning. With the return of Mitchell Marsh, Australia aims to address the struggles of Cameron Green, one of their designated all-rounders.
For Afghanistan, who have lost all three ODIs to Australia, including two in World Cups, the challenge is to build on their recent successes. With four wins in their last five matches, they have kept their semifinal aspirations alive, but defeating Australia remains a formidable task. Their batsmen, led by captain Hashmatullah Shahidi, have shown consistency, but taking on the Australian side presents a different level of competition.
Rashid Khan, known for his bowling prowess, has been working on improving his batting skills, indicating the team's need to enhance their Net Run Rate in the remaining league games.
Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith, Alex Carey (wk), Josh Inglis (wk), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc.
Afghanistan: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Abdul Rahman, Naveen ul Haq.