Pakistan vs. Afghanistan is rather a new rivalry in cricket world. The neighboring countries have only faced each other a handful of times. Afghanistan, who just received full member status in July 2018, have played most of their cricket against minnow teams. Pakistan on the other hand have been a full member since 1952 and have won multiple regional and international titles. They have played cricket against top ranking nations and have defeated seasoned teams at multiple occasions. Afghanistan wants its minnow status removed but will they be able to do that against Pakistan? That’s the question that’s on everybody’s mind.
Pakistan and Afghanistan head-to-head in ODIs:
Pakistan and Afghanistan don’t have much history against each other in ODIs. Afghanistan played their first ODI back in 2009 against Scotland and have played against smaller teams to become a full time member. There is a huge difference between ODI performances of both teams. Pakistan has won 464 out of their total 879 ODI matches. Afghanistan has won 57 in the total 111 ODI matches that they’ve played and most of their wins are against associate members. Afghanistan had to qualify for WC 2019 whereas Pakistan has been a part of this for a long time. Pakistan and Afghanistan have confronted each other 3 times. Pakistan won against Afghanistan in all the contests. Stats place Pakistan ahead of Afghanistan and odds are that Pakistan will be adding another win to their name at the WC. Looking at the numbers and experience, Afghanistan might be the easiest to beat in WC. They are inexperienced and this will be their first WC. Also, they don’t have any extraordinary ODI performance in recent years against any of the top ranking teams. They are currently the underdogs which can actually be good for them. They can play freely because people have the least expectations from them and they got nothing to lose.
Pakistan Afghanistan face off at WC:
Pakistan and Afghanistan are set to confront each other 29th June 2019 at the Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds. The ground is owned by Yorkshire County Club and has been a host to 43 ODI matches. Pitch conditions vary from day to day depending upon the weather conditions. It can quickly turn from a batting paradise to seaming, swinging nightmare. Analysts suggest batting first on it because the pitch provides more seam and swing in the later part of the contest. For Pakistan, the venue would not be much of a problem. This contest would be an easy 2 points for Pakistan. On paper, Afghanistan might be the weakest opposition that Pakistan have to face in the tournament. Their record against Afghanistan is good and they only need to focus on their strengths. There’s no need for unorthodox approach because Afghanistan will have to perform extremely well if they hope to defeat Pakistan.
Looking at the stats, players, venue and experience, it is safe to say that Pakistan has the upper hand in this match. They’ve been around long enough to know how to absorb pressure and not give in easily. For Pakistan, this is an easy win. Afghanistan will have to come up with an out-of-the-box strategy to counter Pakistan’s offense. Expectations would be high from Pakistan so they need not to succumb to pressure. Beyond that, all the odds favor Pakistan with an easy victory.