Two sides who have made bright starts to their respective Super 12 phases meet next in Afghanistan vs Pakistan.
Pakistan turned the entire World Cup on its head thanks to their trouncing of India in match 1 of the Super 12 phase. The historic victory has put them in a pole position to qualify for the semi-finals.
Their early grip of the group was strengthened further by a convincing victory over another contender, New Zealand. Pakistan, alongside England, have looked like the tournament's class teams, and they must be fancying their chances of a third successive win.
While others have been thrown into the thick of the action, Afghanistan have had a slow start to their tournament, having only played one match so far against the tournament's surprise package, Scotland.
Afghanistan made history in this match, becoming the first side to take nine wickets via spin in a World Cup game. Playing on pitches that will suit them perfectly, Afghanistan could cause further upsets and shouldn't be easily overlooked.
It is no surprise to see that Pakistan, after two fantastic victories, are heavy favourites and can be backed at 1.30. Afghanistan to cause the upset can be backed at 3.50.
Afghanistan vs Pakistan T20 World Cup
Team News for Afghanistan
Those connected with Afghanistan have quietly spoken with confidence that this tournament could be a positive one. The early signs look good as they absolutely dismantled Scotland in their first game, winning by 130 runs.
Put in to bat first, Afghanistan displayed what power they have in their team, with Rahamnullah Gurbaz, Najibullah Zadran, and Hazratullah Zazai scoring 46, 59, and 44. Thanks to some excellent power-hitting, Afghanistan posted the tournament's biggest total to date, with 190.
A Scottish team full of confidence didn't even get close to their total, being bowled out for 60. Mujeeb Ur Rahman did the damage, taking five wickets for 20 runs in his four-over spell. Rahman was the first bowler of the tournament to take five wickets.
More will be needed to beat this in-form Pakistan team, but odds of 2.38 for Rahman to take over 1.5 wickets could be a good bet here.
Likely playing 11 of Afghanistan
Mohammad Shahzad, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Najibullah Zadran, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi (c), Gulbadin Nain, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fareed Malik
Team News for Pakistan
Handed arguably the toughest task out of any side in this World Cup, fans of Pakistan must be delighted with the start their country has made following memorable wins over India and New Zealand. The India win will be remembered for decades to come, but perhaps the victory over a gritty and tough New Zealand side was more impressive.
It is a match that Pakistani sides would have lost in the past, particularly after such a memorable win; it was a win that announced Pakistan as outright contenders for this World Cup. They will now be looking for a third successive victory.
Led by openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, Pakistan have two of the world's finest batsmen. Rizwan entered the tournament with a yearly average of 108. Odds of 3.75 for Rizwan to be his team's top scorer could be one of the better bets of the match.
Likely playing 11 of Pakistan
Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi
Pitch and Weather Conditions
This contest will take place at the Dubai International Stadium, where the recent IPL final took place, and will be the venue for this year's T20 World Cup Final as well. With a capacity crowd of 25,000, it is one of the largest stadiums in the UAE region.
In total, there have been 63 T20 contests held at this stadium. There have been 34 games where the side batting first has won, and 29 games have been won by the side batting second. The average score for the first innings is 144, with the second innings average at 122.
This could be a contest where players struggle to find the middle of the bat and could be a contest where spin is key. The stats have already indicated that it's Dubai that has aided the spinners the most in this tournament, so that will bring both Afghanistan and Pakistan's spinners into play.
Betting Predictions for Afghanistan vs Pakistan
Let's take a look at a few important betting predictions for Afghanistan vs Pakistan:
Match Result Prediction
It is very hard to get away from Pakistan as they are rightfully the heavy favourites for this contest. After two massive victories, a win here will put Pakistan in a very commanding position to qualify for the semi-finals.
They will not easily have it all their way in this contest, though, as Afghanistan have already proved their prowess with both the bat and ball in this World Cup. Afghanistan's greatest strength lies in their spin bowling, and the Dubai pitch has statistically proven to be the venue that offers the most turn, which gives them a chance here.
Pakistan in the past might trip over an opposition like Afghanistan, but they look to have one of the most complete sides in the tournament. Pakistan should have too much power with both the bat and ball to overcome Afghanistan, and we will back them to win a third successive match, which will be closer than most predict.
Match Winner: Pakistan (1.30)
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Either team to win the toss can be backed at 1.91. On a pitch that could be very hard to bat on, the side that wins the toss will want to bat to make the most of the better batting conditions before scoring gets harder as the game goes on. Any score over 150 should be very hard to chase.
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Top Batsman for Pakistan
At the top of this preview, we highlighted the dangers that both Mohammed Rizwan and Babar Azam possess. Both are wonderful players, but we are going to side with Azam to score the most runs here for his side.
Azam got off to the perfect start against India, scoring a stunning 68 off just 52 balls. He then only scored 9 in his next innings and will be looking to make amends here.
Top Batsman for Pakistan: Babar Azam (2.88)
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