WI and Afghanistan look to protect unbeaten records in last clash before Super Eight

West Indies

Match details

West Indies vs Afghanistan
Gros Islet, 8.30pm local

Big picture – Battle of two unbeaten teams

With a line-up packed with power-hitters from top to bottom, West Indies have always been the prototype of a perfect T20 batting side, and it’s no different at T20 World Cup 2024. Add the incisive fast bowlers and effective spinners and they look like the team to beat.

The balance of the Rovman-Powell-led team resembles the ones they had during their title-winning runs in 2012 and 2016. Samuel Badree gave them successful starts with the ball with his legspin then, a role Akeal Hosein has assumed this time with his left-arm orthodox. It may not be a mere coincidence that Daren Sammy, who captained West Indies to the title in those two editions, is at the helm as head coach now.

With all Super Eight spots decided, West Indies’ clash against Afghanistan has little significance. But try telling that to the players that. “Momentum” and “pride” were the keywords in the pre-match press conference that Powell and Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott addressed.

Afghanistan will have tough competition in the Super Eight round, having been clubbed alongside India, Australia and Bangladesh, and will want to carry positive vibes into it. Having enjoyed an unbeaten run thus far, neither team will want to trip up heading into the business end of the competition.

Form guide

West Indies WWWWW (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Afghanistan WWWWW

In the spotlight – Rovman Powell and Rashid Khan

Among those in the current squad, only Nicholas Pooran (1914) and Brandon King (1365) have more T20I runs for West Indies than Rovman Powell (1351). Pooran (487) and King (621) also are the top scorers for them in T20Is since January 2023 with Powell (461) at third. But Powell’s strike rate of 163.47 is far superior to that of the other two, which highlights his destructive powers. However, he is yet to fire in this World Cup – 39 runs in three matches at a strike rate of 105.40. A decent hit ahead of the Super Eight will bode well for the co-hosts.

Rashid Khan has six wickets in this World Cup, and all of them have come in the middle overs. In his T20I career, he has only nine wickets in eight matches against West Indies. They are one of only four teams against whom Rashid averages in the 20s. But against a line-up dominated by right-hand batters, Rashid should be licking his lips to have a perfect outing.

Team news

Barring any last-minute injuries, both teams are likely to be unchanged. It could perhaps be a last chance for Johnson Charles to come good, with Shai Hope waiting in the wings.

West Indies (probable): 1 Brandon King, 2 Johnson Charles, 3 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 4 Roston Chase, 5 Rovman Powell (capt), 6 Andre Russell, 7 Sherfane Rutherford, 8 Akeal Hosein, 9 Romario Shepherd, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Gudakesh Motie.

Afghanistan (probable): 1 Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), 2 Ibrahim Zadran, 3 Gulbadin Naib, 4 Azmatullah Omarzai, 5 Mohammad Nabi, 6 Najibullah Zadran, 7 Karim Janat, 8 Rashid Khan (capt), 9 Noor Ahmad, 10 Naveen-ul-Haq, 11 Fazalhaq Farooqi.

Pitch and conditions

The pitches so far in Gros Islet have been more conducive for batting than most at this World Cup, with teams scoring 180 or more in three out of four innings. At this venue, teams generally prefer to bowl first after winning the toss. In 14 T20s since the start of 2022, only twice have teams opted to bat first. But the results have been mixed: teams batting first have won six times and teams bowling first have also won six times, while two games were washed out.

There’s no threat of rain on Monday but expect it to be a bit windy, as was the case in the last two games here.

Stats that matter

  • Since the start of 2023, West Indies’ run rate of 11.94 in the death overs (17-20) is the highest among all participating teams in this World Cup.
  • Afghanistan have been the most frugal spin-bowling team at this World Cup with an economy rate of 4.88. West Indies are next-best at 5.04.
  • Rahmanullah Gurbaz has a strike rate of 148.48 (49 runs off 33 balls, one dismissal) against left-arm spin at this World Cup. With West Indies having Akeal Hosein and Gudakesh Motie in their line-up, it will be an interesting match-up.

Quotes

“We start with Akeal Hosein. His strength is predominantly in the powerplay and while he does such good work in the powerplay, right as we come out the powerplay is Gudakesh Motie’s time. So it’s like Akeal Hosein passing the baton to Gudakesh Motie and it’s been very good so far. When we sat down as a selection group and picked the World Cup team, we picked both knowing the role that they would play on these Caribbean wickets.”
West Indies captain Rovman Powell on his two left-arm spinners

“I said to them, ‘When you were a youngster and I said you were going to play against West Indies in St Lucia in a World Cup, you would have bitten someone’s hand off for that opportunity. So don’t let this opportunity pass you by just because there’s nothing on the line with regards to qualification.”
Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott on keeping his players motivated for a dead rubber

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Sudarshanan7

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