Head coach Jonathan Trott is hopeful Afghanistan can keep their World Cup campaign alive by pulling off a win against an under-pressure Pakistan, having come agonisingly close to defeating them earlier this year. The 42-year-old added that the passionate rivalry between the two teams, who are desperate to win, would make it an enthralling contest here on Monday.
“I think for them (Afghans), it’s a rivalry that excites them. It’s a rivalry that sometimes in the past has been very passionate,” Trott said at the pre-match press conference on Sunday.
“But I’m sure we’ll see an exciting game tomorrow. It’s just the nature of the rivalry. And both teams respect each other but are very desperate to win,” he added.
Pakistan had defeated Afghanistan 3-0 in a three-match ODI series in August with Babar Azam and Co. eking out a narrow one-wicket win in the second match.
“We’ve had an ODI series against them recently where we should have won a few games, (but) we didn’t. So hopefully, we can put that right tomorrow.” Afghanistan play their second game at the Chepauk, the Hashmatullah Shahidi-led side fell to 149-run loss to New Zealand at the same venue on Wednesday.
“The pitch I’m not sure. Chennai is normally a good wicket. So, everybody’s got to put in a good team performance if we want to beat the likes of a strong side like Pakistan.” In the game against New Zealand, the Afghan spinners failed to make an impact.
“With spinners, there are only two or three of them playing a game. And, it’s the other eight as well that have to play the game, so that’s important,” Trott replied to a query from PTI.
“It’s everybody’s job. It’s not just the spinners’ job to win games. There are batters who’ve got to put runs on the board or chase down a total. Yes, the spinners are important and getting our selection is key for the fixture, but it’s a team effort. There’s no reliance on just spinners.” Afghanistan are at the bottom of the points table, having lost three of the four fixtures they have played. Their only victory came against defending champion England.
The game against Pakistan is a must-win of sorts for Afghanistan if they want to keep their fate in their own hands. A loss could mean they will have to rely on favourable results to stay in the semifinal race.
“Every game is a must-win game. This is a World Cup, and every game is important. So, I don’t see the other matches just as more important as this,” said Trott.
Pakistan is headed into the match having suffered back-to-back losses against hosts India and Australia. Trott asserted that his side would aim to exploit this situation against an under-pressure Pakistani side.
“We always look to put up put the opposition under pressure straight away, so we’ll be looking to do that tomorrow, obviously. There’s a lot of other things that come into the game with regards to the rivalry and the history of and the passion of everything.” “We know the Pakistan team will be very determined to win tomorrow and certainly want to sort of snap that losing streak of the two games,” he signed off.
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