Pakistan aim to leapfrog England as Trans-Tasman rivals go head to head
Last Updated: 29/06/19 1:18pm
Semi-final spots remain up for grabs as the Cricket World Cup serves up a dynamic double-header on Saturday.
Pakistan remain very much in contention and will jump into fourth spot in the table if they can beat winless Afghanistan; in so doing they would leapfrog England, who face a crunch clash against unbeaten India on Sunday.
Defending champions Australia are the only team to have qualified for the semi-finals but their opponents in Saturday's day-nighter, New Zealand, are within touching distance despite losing their unbeaten status to Pakistan.
It all adds up to a pulsating day's viewing and you will not miss a ball on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup and across our digital platforms.
Pakistan vs Afghanistan: Team news
There seems precious little reason for Pakistan to tinker with a side that toppled the much-fancied Black Caps - although with only Babar Azam and Haris Sohail averaging over 35, more runs will be required from Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman in particular to put a few questions to bed.
Afghanistan have lost all of their seven games so far, using 16 players in total, and the winning formula remains elusive although Samiullah Shinwari impressed with 49no against Bangladesh in his first appearance of the World Cup. Change may not be the order of the day.
Ones to watch
Haris Sohail could be forgiven for feeling he still has a point to prove despite having returned to the Pakistan side with scores of 89 and 68. Axed after the West Indies defeat, this versatile batsman might just hold the key to continuing Pakistan's timely rise.
After a quiet couple of matches, Mujeeb Ur Rahman came to the fore for Afghanistan against Bangladesh by taking 3-39 from his full allocation. Trusted to take the first over, the spinner also has the ability to nip out the very best - as he showed against India with a beauty to castle Rohit Sharma.
What are they saying?
Haris Sohail on Pakistan's progress: "We've kept it very simple. We're going from match to match. They have quality spinners and we've seen a lot of videos and we've worked from them. And hopefully we'll see a good match."
Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib: "If you look at similar conditions, it is certainly in our favour, it's good for our spinners. Sohail played really well in the last two games and Babar Azam too. Rashid is a different spinner, a different bowler to other spinners. So it's difficult to pick him."
New Zealand vs Australia: Team news
Australia coach Justin Langer says it is unlikely pacemen Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins will be rested despite his team's progression to the last four, while Jason Behrendorff is also expected to keep his place after taking 5-44 in the victory over England.
The time may have come for New Zealand to tinker. With Martin Guptill and Colin Munro looking ever uneasy at the top of the order, fit-again Henry Nicholls is firmly in the frame. Seamer Tim Southee and spinner Ish Sodhi are also in the frame if New Zealand want to mix it up.
Ones to watch
Australia skipper Aaron Finch has racked up 496 runs but - for now at least - has been eclipsed by David Warner, who is the tournament's leading run-scorer with 500. The pair have provided Australia with some impressive platforms but it's Warner's merciless 166 against Afghanistan that gives him the edge in the charts and no one will relish playing the Black Caps more.
Cool, calm and calculated - Kane Williamson has been in imperious form in the tournament so far, papering over his team's top-order cracks and Pakistan's jubilation at dismissing him for 'just' 41 was plain for all to see. Australia will target him but ruffle him they will not.
What are they saying?
Australia's Justin Langer on Behrendorff: "To come to England and bowl on the big stage as well as he did, it will be a great confidence boost for him. I've seen it for a long time: he is a very good athlete and he's an incredible professional so he will do everything possible to play."
New Zealand's Jimmy Neesham: "Australia are a team we have played a lot over the last two or three years. We know how they go about the game. The defeat to Pakistan was a bit of a blip. We're not the type of team that takes losses really hard."
Watch Pakistan take on Afghanistan live on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup from 10am on Saturday, with live coverage of Australia versus New Zealand getting underway at 1pm.