Leeds: Riding high on confidence after two back-to-back wins, Pakistan will look to carry on the winning momentum when they face Afghanistan in their crucial World Cup encounter at Headingley on Saturday.
A win against Afghanistan will keep Pakistan in the hunt for the semifinal race. With seven points from seven games, Pakistan need to win both their remaining matches and hope for favourable results in matches of other teams too to make it to the top four by the end of the tournament.
After their defeat to India, the Green Brigade had to face harsh criticism, both from fans and former cricketers. However, they kept aside all those negativities and registered thumping wins over South Africa and New Zealand.
Their last win against the Black Caps would have bolstered their confidence immensely, considering the kind of performance they came out with against the Kiwis who were one of the two unbeaten sides in the tournament till then.
Their bowling looks in firm form with Mohammed Amir, Shaheen Afridi and Wahab Riaz all chipping with crucial wickets. Their batting has also been bolstered by the inclusion of Haris Sohail who has contributed heavily in Pakistan's last two wins. Also, with Babar Azam coming to his usual best, one can expect Pakistan to outstage Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, have not been able to register a single win in the tournament so far. Their bowling has looked ok with all their spinners performing. But it's their batting which has let them down in all the matches. The batsmen just have not been able to score and it has been a cause of concern for them.
However, with nothing to lose, Afghanistan would hope to enjoy their game and come out with a surprise win against Pakistan, thus hampering their chances of making it to the knockout stage.
Squads: Pakistan: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c, wk), Asif Ali, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Amir, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Imam-ul-Haq, Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz, Haris Sohail, Imad Wasim, Fakhar Zaman
Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (c), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah (wk), Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Ikram Ali Khil