Afghanistan spinners main threat to Pakistan in Chennai

Fierce rivals clash in crucial World Cup match at spin friendly venue on Monday

Pakistan's team director Mickey Arthur with Mohammad Rizwan during training in Chennai. AP
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Pakistan will be preparing for trial by spin when they face Afghanistan at Chennai in their World Cup clash on Monday.

Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi are expected to enjoy spin friendly conditions at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, which puts them at par with Pakistan in a crucial contest.

Babar Azam's team enter the match on the back of successive defeats against India and Australia, while the Afghans have a win and a defeat in their last two matches.

Afghanistan's bowlers caused a lot of problems to England's batsmen while New Zealand, too, found the going tough against them in Chennai. Pakistan's batsmen, therefore, are preparing for a tough contest.

"We know this ground favours spinners and they have quality spin bowlers but we have beaten them 3-0 recently in a one-day series in Sri Lanka under the same conditions," Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq said.

"We all know Afghanistan is a good team and in these conditions they will be tough but we are ready for that and will execute our plans."

Imam admitted his team have been disappointing in their last two matches, losing to India by seven wickets and by 62 runs to the Aussies. However, the opener admitted the team will be charged up for Monday's match that could well decide their fate in the tournament.

"We have to admit we did not play well in those games," Imam added.

"We were not up to the mark, did not get the execution right. We dropped crucial catches and that hurt. You will see a new team tomorrow. We want to go to Kolkata with four wins in six games," said Haq, whose team will also face South Africa in Chennai on Friday.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott said his team is ready for what has become one of the most intense rivalries in cricket.

Things have boiled over both on and off the field between players and fans when the two teams have clashed. At their 2019 World Cup match in Leeds, fights broke out between fans outside the stadium.

Afghanistan fast bowler Fareed Ahmad and Pakistan batsman Asif Ali almost came to blows in a T20 match in the Asia Cup last year.

"I think it's a rivalry that sometimes in the past has been very passionate," Trott said.

"We've had very close games as well. Hopefully tomorrow isn't very exciting and we win by a lot. It's just the nature of the rivalry, I should say."

Updated: October 22, 2023, 1:16 PM