Afghanistan & Netherlands eye semi-final surge in Cricket World Cup

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Afghanistan and Netherlands both stunned highly-fancied opponents to kickstart their campaign, and can now chase another victory that would put the winner right in

the race for a semi-final berth here at the BRSABVE Cricket Stadium on Friday.

Afghanistan and Netherlands are still in the race to reach the knockout stages of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 following early triumphs over top-four contenders and clinical wins in their last start.

A fourth victory here for Afghanistan would have them draw level on eight points with both Australia and New Zealand in third and fourth-place, and firmly in the mix for a spot in the knockout stages.

With only two wins so far, Netherlands have a trickier path to the semi-finals but could give their chances a huge boost with two points from this crunch clash.

The sides have only met in nine previous ODIs with Netherlands winning the first of those in 2009 but only coming out on top once more in 2012.

Afghanistan won all three of their encounters in Doha at the start of last year when batting first and holding Netherlands at arm’s length in the chase, but the stakes are much higher this time for the

two emerging sides both in good form.

Inspirational skipper Scott Edwards has led the way for Netherlands while showing that he well and truly belongs on the big stage during the showpiece event in India.

Edwards has 204 runs at an average of 51 in Netherlands’ six matches to date, including fifties in both of their victories so far at the Cricket World Cup.

The keeper-batter top-scored with 78 not out to play a pivotal role in Netherlands’ shock triumph over South Africa, and was again the leading run-scorer with 68 in the win over Bangladesh.

Edwards will hope for more support in the clash with Afghanistan but can expect to put Netherlands in with a shot of a third victory if he is again among the runs.

Afghanistan explosive opening pair Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran might put fear in the hearts of opposition bowlers, but it is often left to Hashmatullah Shahidi to deliver the knockout blow.

The Afghanistan captain looked assured when steering his side home with an unbeaten 48 not out to clinch a historic victory over Pakistan that breathed life into their campaign.

Shahidi then backed it up with another unbeaten knock of 58 not out as Afghanistan put themselves right in the hunt for a semi-final berth with an emphatic win over Sri Lanka.

The left-hander has 226 runs at an average of 56.5 at the Cricket World Cup and now looms as the linchpin to Afghanistan’s hopes of a late surge to the knockout stages.

Squads:

Netherlands: Scott Edwards (c), Max O’Dowd, Bas de Leede, Vikram Singh, Teja Nidamanuru, Paul van Meekeren, Colin Ackermann, Roelof van der Merwe, Logan van Beek, Aryan Dutt, Ryan Klein, Wesley Barresi, Saqib Zulfiqar, Shariz Ahmad, Sybrand Engelbrecht.

Afghanistan: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Abdul Rahman, Naveen ul Haq.

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