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World Cup 2019, Match 4- AUS Vs AFG, Preview: Warner-Smith Boosted Australia Begin Their Title Defence

“The wicket is expected to assist the spinners and these two men will be key for Australia.”

In the second game of the day and fourth of this World Cup 2019 extravaganza, reigning champions Australia will be locking horns with Afghanistan at the County Ground in Bristol. The five-time champions are ready to start their title defence which they won by defeating New Zealand in the finals of the 2015 edition of the tournament. Both Australia and Afghanistan are coming high on confidence into this match after brilliant outings in the respective warm-up games.

Australia registered splendid victories in the warm-up clashes against hosts England and Sri Lanka. With two fantastic series victories against India and Australia in their own backyards on their back and the return of the two mainstays, David Warner and Steve Smith, the reigning champions are surely looking as one of the top contenders to win the coveted title for the sixth time. Australia had a poor run till the home series against India earlier this year as they lost it but in the last couple of months, Aaron Finch’s men have bounced back hard, winning a series against India 3-2 after trailing 0-2 and then crushing Pakistan in an away series 5-0.

Finch himself also hit the purple patch on time. Australia’s eight consecutive wins came without any contribution from Steve Smith and David Warner, the two cricketers who made a comeback to the side following the conclusion of their year-long ban.

On the other hand, Afghanistan looks to be a relatively less competitive side if going by the experience, but it is also a fact that they can be written off at your own risk. The Gulbadin Naib-led team recorded a fine win over Pakistan in the warm-up game, before losing the next one to hosts England. Playing in just their second World Cup, Afghanistan will look to push hard in the tournament. Even though it won’t be easy, Afghanistan has taken giant strides at the international level and has been bringing out some great performances.

They sure wouldn’t give up without putting in a great fight. They will surely unleash some big upsets in this 50-overs competition. A lot will depend on their batsmen if they are to snatch a victory away from Australia.

Australia’s likely Playing XI

Australia’s biggest problem has come to an end as David Warner has recovered from his injury scare and will open the batting along with skipper Aaron Finch. The in-form duo of Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith will occupy the number three and four spots respectively. Shaun Marsh, who was their best batsman in the year 2018, will have to sit out for the first game. The pair of Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis are the two all-rounders in the side, while Alex Carey will bat in the middle-order along with taking the gloves.

With all of them getting fit and rearing to go, Australia will also unleash their fierce pace bowling trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile. Adam Zampa is the lone specialist spinner in the playing XI and thus, Maxwell will have to provide some assistance.

Probable XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa.

Afghanistan’s likely Playing XI

After having missed the second warm-up game against England, explosive opening batsman Mohammad Shahzad has attained complete fitness and is ready to take the guard along with Hazratullah Zazai. Rahmat Shah will take up the crucial number three slot and will head the middle-order which includes the likes of Asghar Afghan and the in-form Hashmatullah Shahidi. The all-rounder duo of Mohammad Nabi and skipper Gulbadin Naib will provide the finishing touch.

The trio of Nabi, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman will handle the spin bowling duties. Afghanistan will be playing just two specialist fast bowlers in Hamid Hassan and Dawlat Zadran.

Probable XI: Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Gulbadin Naib (c), Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Hamid Hassan.

Match Timings- 6:00 pm IST and 1:30 local

Broadcast Details- Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD.