No margin for error as Pakistan plays Afghanistan

Enigmatic Pakistan will hope to continue its resurgent run, while keeping complacency at bay, when it plays Afghanistan in the ICC World Cup at Headingley here on Saturday.
No margin for error as Pakistan plays Afghanistan
Pakistan is on a roll, having won its previous two World Cup matches
Staring at a possible league stage elimination after three defeats and a washout, Pakistan staged a remarkable comeback with wins over South Africa and New Zealand to keep its hopes alive. A couple of losses for host England has only brightened the 1992 winner’s prospects of a semi-final berth.

There were quite a few positives from the six-wicket victory over New Zealand, with Babar Azam’s century and Shaheen Afridi’s five-wicket haul being the most prominent ones. The worry now is that after beating South Africa and New Zealand, a feeling of complacency may creep in, but Pakistan cannot allow that to happen.

The current team has been able to work out similarities with the country’s 1992 campaign. Given the way the tournament has so far panned out for the green shirts, it is impossible to ignore the parallels with Imran Khan’s side, which also effected a stunning turnaround on the way to winning the title.

Pakistan’s rally and England’s reverses have opened up the competition, but the players will do well to not worry about other results. If Pakistan beats Afghanistan and Bangladesh, its chances of reaching the last four will increase. The inclusion of Harris Sohail at the expense of out-of-form Shoaib Malik has lent both stability and flair to Pakistan’s batting.

Left-arm pacer Afridi has added firepower to its bowling, which is led by Mohammad Amir. Afghanistan, which came close to causing the biggest upset against India, would want to do better. A win over Pakistan would be a nice way to open the account, and the likes of Rashid Khan and Gulbadin Naib will be aware of that.

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