Afghanistan have two of the top three all-rounders in the ICC’s ODI rankings in Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi. They also have a strong spin bowling attack — Rashid is also No 3 in the ODI bowler rankings — that will have to quickly adapt to the relatively small boundaries in England in conditions that tend to favour swing bowlers. They had a morale-boosting victory over West Indies to win the qualifying series for the 9th and 10th spots at the World Cup.
The defending champions have endured a tumultuous past year but the Aaron Finch-led side are peaking at the right time and are considered one of the favourites in the 50-over showpiece event.
After edging out hosts India 3-2 in a five-match ODI series in March, Australia welcomed back Smith and Warner with open arms.
But they are not expected to be given an easy ride by English fans, with former captain Smith being booed and called a “cheat” during the England warm-up game.
Former Australian paceman Brett Lee expects the pair to make big contributions but has warned they might need thick skin playing in front of the English crowds.
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Head-to-Head ODI records
Overall (2matches): Australia won 2 matches; Afghanistan won 0 matches
At neutral venues (1 match): Australia won 1 match; Afghanistan won 0 matches
In England: Never played
At County Ground, Bristol: Never played
In the World Cup (1 match): Australia won 1 match; Afghanistan won 0 matches
Afghanistan Team Squad
Gulbadin Naib (captain), Mohammad Shahzad (wicketkeeper), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan and Mujeeb ur Rahman
Australia Team Squad
Aaron Finch (captain), Usman Khawaja, David Warner, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wicketkeeper), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa
Our Match Prediction for Afghanistan vs Australia 4th Match
- Australia are packed in their batting-order with deep batting lineup which can be a differentiating factor in close contests
- Afghanistan rely heavily on their spinners and it would be interesting to see how they fare on surfaces not known to be conducive to spin
- The Afghans have a fragile batting lineup which was apparent in their last warm-up fixture, against England, as well