(Reuters) – Pakistan have spared no effort in their preparations to take on Afghanistan’s spinners in Saturday’s World Cup clash that could be crucial to their hopes of making the semi-finals, batsman Haris Sohail said on the eve of the contest.
Back-to-back wins against South Africa and New Zealand have given the former champions a chance of making the knockouts but they must beat Afghanistan and Bangladesh in their final two games and hope other results go their way to advance.
Sohail, who was dropped after their opening defeat by West Indies but returned to the side scoring 89 and 68 in the last two matches, said Pakistan had to keep a close eye on spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman who could hurt their chances.
“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,” Sohail told reporters.
Sohail scored only one run when Pakistan lost their warm-up match to Afghanistan last month, but the 30-year-old said he had no doubts about his ability on the big stage.
“From the last series against Australia I have been playing very well, and this time they’ve given me the different role… bat at four or five,” Sohail added.
“I’m going with my plan and we have to assess the situation and I will play accordingly.”
Meanwhile, Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib said his team will fancy their chances on a Headingley wicket that could assist his spinners.
Afghanistan are looking to finish on a high after losing all their seven games.
“If you look at similar conditions, it is certainly in our favour, it’s good for our spinners,” he said.
“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.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)