AUS vs AFG ICC World Cup 2023: 5 player battles
On his good day, the pacer can dismiss big batters. Farooqi will be challenged by Warner.

Australia will meet Afghanistan in match number 39 of World Cup 2023 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday, November 7. This match will be significant, with the race for the top four spots heating up. India and South Africa have already confirmed their place in the semi-finals, while Bangladesh, England, and Sri Lanka have been knocked out. Australia, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Pakistan, and the Netherlands are vying for the remaining two places.

Australia are currently in third position in the 2023 points table. They have 10 points from seven matches, having won their last five games in a row after beginning the competition with two losses. In their previous match, they defeated Ashes rivals England by 33 runs. Afghanistan have exceeded expectations in the World Cup, winning four of their seven matches. Like Australia, they also started the World Cup with two defeats but have since beaten England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and most recently, the Netherlands, winning all the matches by comprehensive margins. As Australia and Afghanistan prepare for their clash, here are five player battles to watch out for.

David Warner vs Fazalhaq Farooqi

After a disappointing start, following which question marks were being raised about his place in the team, Australian opener David Warner has come into his own. In fact, he is Australia’s leading run-getter in the tournament, having smashed 428 runs in seven innings at an average of 61.14 and a strike rate of 111.75. The left-handed clubbed a brilliant 163 against Pakistan in Bengaluru and followed it up with 104 against Netherlands in Delhi and 81 versus New Zealand in Dharamsala. Warner was dismissed for 15 against England, so he will want to get back among the runs.

Afghanistan’s talented left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi was the Player of the Match for his impressive figures of 4/34 in the game against Sri Lanka. He dismissed Dimuth Karunaratne, Charith Asalanka, Maheesh Theekshana, and Angelo Mathews to put the Lankans on the back foot. Thanks to Farooqi, Sri Lanka were held to 241. On his good day, the pacer can dismiss big batters. Farooqi will be challenged by Warner. Can he find a way to get past the seasoned batter?

Rahmanullah Gurbaz vs Mitchell Starc

Rahmanullah Gurbaz has had an inconsistent World Cup 2023 campaign. But on days that he has got going, he has been absolutely brilliant to watch. He began the tournament with an unconventionally sedate 47 against Bangladesh. He stood up with the bat in the game against England, clobbering 80 in quick time before getting run out. Gurbaz contributed a crucial 65 in the memorable win over Pakistan. In the last two matches, though, he has been dismissed for 0 and 10, respectively. The opening batter would look to fire against Australia.

Australia’s seasoned left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc has chipped in with crucial wickets for the team in all the matches, barring one high-scoring game against New Zealand in which most bowlers went for plenty. With that, his streak of picking at least one wicket in every World Cup game also ended. He was back among the scalps in Australia’s win over England in Ahmedabad. Starc registered figures of 2/66, getting the big wickets of Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root. The left-armer likes picking up big scalps. Against Afghanistan, Gurbaz will be a key wicket. Can Starc have his number?

Marnus Labuschagne vs Noor Ahmad

Marnus Labuschagne has proved that Australia’s decision to leave him out of the World Cup squad initially was a big mistake. With Steve Smith struggling for runs and rhythm, it has been Labuschagne who has shored up the middle order. He contributed 40s against South Africa and Sri Lanka. In Australia’s last three matches, he has contributed two vital half-centuries, scoring 62 against Netherlands and 71 against England. The batter will look to carry on in the same rhythm.

Afghanistan’s left-arm wrist-spinner Noor Ahmad has made his presence felt after being drafted into the side as the extra spinner in a team loaded with slow bowlers. He played a key role in the historic win over Pakistan, registering figures of 3/49. Ahmad dismissed Abdullah Shafique, Mohammad Rizwan, and Babar Azam. He starred against the Netherlands as well, picking up two wickets for 41 runs. The youngster’s skills, though, will be tested against Labuschagne, who will look to take him on for sure. This could be an intriguing battle in the making between two maverick talents.

Rahmat Shah vs Adam Zampa

The experienced Rahmat Shah has been rock steady for Afghanistan in the chase after a disappointing start to the 2023 World Cup. The 30-year-old has registered half-centuries in the last three matches and has been one of the rocks around which Afghanistan have built solid chases against Pakistan (77 not out), Sri Lanka (62), and Netherlands (52). The way he is batting, Rahmat will be extremely high on confidence when he steps on the field against Australia.

If he is in during the middle overs, Rahmat will be challenged by the guile of Adam Zampa. The seasoned Aussie leggie has been in extraordinary form. He is the second-leading wicket-taker in the tournament, with 19 wickets from seven matches at an average of 17.16. Zampa was Player of the Match against England, as he claimed 3/21. Can he end Rahmat’s resistance before the batter gets his eye in?

Josh Inglis vs Rashid Khan

Josh Inglis has made a couple of notable contributions with the bat. He scored 58 against Sri Lanka and chipped in with 38 against New Zealand. He has not been consistent but has done a reasonable job so far. He will look to make a contribution against Afghanistan too.

After his three-for against England, Afghanistan leggie Rashid Khan has only picked up two wickets in four matches. He will be keen to come up with a much better effort against a strong Australian side. At the death, he could be up against the aggressive Inglis. This tussle could be an interesting one.