Pakistan captain Babar Azam has won the toss and has elected to bat first in a near must-win clash against Afghanistan in the 2023 World Cup clash at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. Following the toss, Babar announced that Shadab Khan has returned for the clash for Mohammad Nawaz, who is down with fever.
Shadab missed the previous clash against Australia at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru in favour of Usama Mir. However, with the Chennai track expected to spin extravagantly, Shadab could prove to be effective and inevitably needs a performance to stay afloat. The 1992 World Champions also need a win after two consecutive losses against India and Australia.
Afghanistan, meanwhile, have dropped a seamer in Fazalhaq Farroqi for a spinner. Hashmatullah Shahidi admitted that he also wanted to bat first and underlined the need to restrict Pakistan within 250. With Noor Ahmed replacing Farooqi, they have four gun spinners, posing a massive threat for Babar Azam and his men across 40 overs.
Afghanistan's journey has been equally inconsistent, losing their first two matches before stunning England, with New Zealand again inflicting a massive defeat. Pakistan and Afghanistan have so far locked horns in 7 ODIs and the former has won all of them, including the recent three-game 50-over series.
Playing XI of Pakistan and Afghanistan:
Pakistan: Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam(c), Mohammad Rizwan(w), Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Usama Mir, Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf.
Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi(c), Azmatullah Omarzai, Ikram Alikhil(w), Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, Noor Ahmad.