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WI, Afghanistan to battle for supremacy

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Gros Islet (Saint Lucia), June 17: Hosts West Indies and much-improved Afghanistan will indulge in a battle of one upmanship and strive to gain momentum for the Super Eight stage when they take on each other in their final group stage game of the T20 World Cup here.
After starting off with a scrappy win over Papua New Guinea, West Indies are slowly but steadily finding their rhythm. They brushed aside Uganda and New Zealand.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, have had a flawless campaign so far. Rashid Khan and Co. are enjoying the conditions that the Carribean pitches are offering.
Gaining momentum is the only thing at stake in the final Group C clash with both teams having qualified for the Super Eights.
“Momentum is a very important word for us it’s important for us to keep playing good cricket and consistent cricket,” West Indies skipper Rovman Powell said on the eve of the game.
“After this game the Super 8 is very, very important so you want players going into the Super 8 with good performances, you want to go in the Super 8 as a team winning.” That opener Rahamanullah Gurbaz (167 runs) and pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi (12 wickets) are currently leading the chart of run-makers and wicket-takers respectively is a just reflection of their fine run in this ICC showpiece.
Besides Gurbaz, the experienced Ibrahim Zadran has also made significant contributions collecting 114 runs with a highest score of 70. But the Afghans who have a lot of right hand batters will have their task cut out against left-arm spinners Akeal Hosein and Gudakesh Motie.
The Afghans themselves will be without off spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who has been ruled out of the tournament due to a finger injury.
However, they have no dearth of spinners with the likes of skipper Rashid and young Noor Ahmad, who bowled economically against Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, in their ranks.
“It’s been three good games but realising there’s a lot more than three games to go obviously tomorrow and then three more in the group stage and hopefully beyond,” Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott said.
“That’s the focus but we’re not worried about looking too far ahead the focus obviously the main goal is to go as far as we can and achieve things that no other Afghanistan team has done before.
“And we’ve taken a step in the right direction so far, but that’s all it is. There’s a lot more cricket ahead and a lot of good teams to play against,” he added.
The Darren Sammy National Stadium has one of the best pitches across both USA and the Caribbean.
With the ball coming on to the bat nicely, both matches played here so far have been high-scoring affairs with Sri Lanka piling up a 200-plus score on Sunday.
The flamboyant West Indies batters in search of some big scores would welcome the conditions. The home batters have not yet found their groove, something which the skipper acknowledged.
“All of us as batters, have had a very subtle start to the World Cup, but tomorrow presents an opportunity here at the Daren Sammy Stadium for us as batters to get it right – it’s also a better opportunity on a better wicket,” Powell said. (PTI)

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