Afghanistan and the Netherlands are set to face off in a crucial match in the ICC World Cup 2023 tournament. Afghanistan is hoping to secure a spot in the semi-finals by relying on their past successes and familiarity with the Lucknow venue, where they played in 2019. Their strengthened middle order and versatile attack add to their chances of success. Meanwhile, the Netherlands are aiming for the Champions Trophy with their consistent but less aggressive batting approach. This match is not just another game, but a strategic battle for making significant progress on cricket's biggest stage.
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Match Preview: Afghanistan vs Netherlands, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 34th Match
ICC World Cup • 3 Nov, 2023 • 3,825 Views • ⭐ 5.0
Written by Anand Swami
Lucknow's Ekana Stadium, known for its challenging batting conditions, has seldom witnessed high-scoring ODIs. Historically, the venue has favoured spin, and only once has a team surpassed the 300-run mark in this competition. As the stadium's wicket tends to aid those batting second, this could influence captaincy decisions at the toss. With a relaid pitch earlier in the year, teams will be eager to see how this surface behaves, especially given its propensity to shape the game's outcome.
Form Guide - Afghanistan
Afghanistan's form leading into the crucial stages of the tournament reads LWLWW, reflecting a remarkable resurgence. After a modest World Cup history with just one win before this edition, they have now vanquished three former champions, marking a significant upturn in their fortunes. Notably, in 2019, Afghanistan used Lucknow as their home ground, where they competed against the West Indies in one Test, three T20Is, and three ODIs. Although their success in the ODIs was limited during that series, their familiarity with the venue may now play to their advantage. The team has made strategic improvements; the previously top-heavy batting lineup has found balance with the emergence of middle-order contributors Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai.
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Fast bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi's recent performance, notably a four-wicket haul against Sri Lanka, has added depth to an attack renowned for its spin, showing they are a well-rounded unit. Afghanistan's victories have been characterized by clinical execution, highlighted by a composed chase against strong teams, instilling the belief that they are a force to be reckoned with at the World Cup. Sitting on the brink of climbing to eight points, Afghanistan's next win could position them alongside the likes of Australia and New Zealand, intensifying the race for the semi-final slots.
Form Guide - Netherlands
The Netherlands team heads into their next World Cup match riding the momentum of a crucial win against Bangladesh, with spirits bolstered by their earlier triumph over South Africa in the tournament. This resilience has kept their semi-final aspirations alive, albeit slim, while also presenting a realistic opportunity to secure a spot in the 2025 Champions Trophy; a goal that requires them to finish within the top eight. The Dutch bowling unit has been a pillar of reliability throughout, save for an outlier performance against Australia. However, the batting lineup has shown some vulnerability, often lacking the robustness needed to post commanding scores in a tournament where high totals have been the norm.
The team has breached the 250-run mark only once, indicating a tendency to rely on their middle and lower order to stage rescues. As they gear up for the encounter with Afghanistan, the Netherlands is acutely aware of the stakes. A victory would not only propel their World Cup campaign but also widen the points gap over competitors like Bangladesh and England, enhancing their chances of cutting the Champions Trophy. With run-scoring proving challenging at the current venue, the Netherlands must find a formula for success against a well-rounded Afghan attack, spearheaded by the formidable Rashid Khan.
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Azmatullah Omarzai began 2023 with a starkly improved ODI track record, leaving behind a modest average from the previous year. With 305 runs in 12 ODIs, including three fifties, his average soared to 43.57. In this tournament, he stands out as Afghanistan's fifth-highest run-scorer, amassing 203 runs at an impressive average of 50.75. His medium pace has complemented his batting, yielding five wickets at an average of 39.80. Omarzai's adept handling of the ball during the middle overs has become an integral part of Afghanistan's strategy.
Aryan Dutt has consistently opened the bowling for the Netherlands, proving his mettle as an offspinner, particularly in the powerplay. His figures are a testament to his precision and control; across 23 powerplay overs, he's claimed three wickets with an enviable economy of just 4.56 runs per over. Moreover, Dutt leads the tally for bowling maidens, with seven to his name. Coming off a commendable 1 for 26 in a ten-over spell against Bangladesh, Dutt’s confidence will be as significant as his skill in the upcoming fixtures.
Afghanistan's squad depth has been bolstered with wicketkeeper-batter Ikram Alikhil being declared fit for selection after sustaining a finger injury in the game against Sri Lanka. Coach Jonathan Trott has confirmed his availability, providing the team with more options for their lineup. Considering the pitch conditions in Lucknow, which are anticipated to favour spin bowling, Afghanistan might strategize to include young spinner Noor Ahmad, potentially in place of Naveen-ul-Haq. This change would enhance their spin attack, reminiscent of their tactic against Pakistan in Chennai where they fielded four spinners and Noor Ahmad impressed with a spell of 3 for 49. On the other hand, the Netherlands, buoyed by their recent victory over Bangladesh, are expected to retain their winning combination, keeping faith in the team that delivered success.
Pitch and Weather Report
The pitch at Ekana Stadium, a blend of black and red soil, has been historically stingy for high scores, aiding spin and favouring the chasing side. The average first innings score at this ground is 229, with the second innings average slightly lower at 207. The weather forecast for the game day promises clear skies with a high of 31 degrees Celsius, a pleasant 47% humidity, and a gentle breeze at 10 km/h, setting up ideal conditions for a full day's play.
Afghanistan (Possible): Rashid Khan, Naveen-ul-Haq/Noor Ahmad, Ibrahim Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi (capt), Ikram Alikhil (wk), Azmatullah Omarzai
Netherlands (Possible): Wesley Barresi, Max O'Dowd, Paul van Meekeren, Colin Ackermann, Shariz Ahmad, Aryan Dutt, Scott Edwards (capt & wk), Logan van Beek, Bas de Leede, Vikramjit Singh, Sybrand Engelbrecht
The live telecast of the NED vs AFG match will be available on the Star Sports Network and can be streamed via Disney+ Hotstar in India. Viewers in the Netherlands can watch the match on NOS Sport, and fans in Afghanistan can tune into Ariana TV for the live broadcast. The World Cup 2023 encounter between the Netherlands and Afghanistan is scheduled to begin at 2 PM Indian Standard Time (IST), with the toss set to occur at 1:30 PM IST. For audiences in the Netherlands, the action will commence at 10:30 AM (CEST), and in Afghanistan, the match will start at 1 PM (AFT).
The outcome of the match has more significance than just World Cup points; it is also about Afghanistan's pursuit of a semi-final spot and the Netherlands' ambition to win the Champions Trophy. Both teams have a lot at stake in this game, with Afghanistan looking to continue their winning streak, and the Netherlands relying on their resilience. With past successes fueling their motivation and future glory within reach, this is a must-win game for both teams. The match promises to be a cricketing spectacle where strategy and finesse meet the intensity of a high-stakes scenario.
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