AFGHANISTAN skipper Gulbadin Naib believes England could be on the receiving end of a World Cup shock if Old Trafford favours the spinners today.
While Afghanistan are bottom of the standings after four defeats out of four and face the tournament hosts and world No.1 side as big underdogs, Gulbadin is hopeful the conditions in Manchester will give his side hope of causing a huge shock.
Their game plan is built around star leg-spinner Rashid Khan, backed up by fellow twirlers Mohammad Nabi and Rahmat Shah, and Gulbadin said: ‘We are looking for the spin, every game. If the wicket is like the one India and Pakistan played on [at Old Trafford on Sunday], which slightly turned, with this kind of turn maybe every team is in trouble against Afghanistan. Not only England. If there is a little bit of spin, maybe it’s a good day for Afghanistan.’
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, with just three dismissals at 38 runs apiece.
However, all-rounder Gulbadin hopes that means a big performance is just around the corner, adding: ‘Rashid is not like other bowlers who bowl normally, he’s an attacking bowler. 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 for the success of Afghanistan.’
Gulbadin admits Jason Roy’s absence through injury is a positive, after the Surrey batsman’s 89 not out in 46 balls in the warm-up game between the teams.
‘It’s good luck for us Jason Roy is not playing. Roy is one of the best players in the world now,’ he said. ‘The last two years, he has been world class.’