Spin likely to be key in England-Afghanistan clash

Tuesday’s fixture in Manchester will be played on the same surface used by India and Pakistan on Sunday, which favoured the Indian spinners; it is time for Rashid Khan to deliver.

Jason Roy won't be featuring in the game against Afghanistan.   -  GETTY IMAGES

With Jason Roy ruled out, England may have to rejig its batting order when it squares off against Afghanistan in the World Cup 2019 fixture at the Old Trafford on Tuesday.

While Roy will be out of action for the next two games with a hamstring injury, captain Eoin Morgan — who had a sore back in the last fixture — hopes to be available for the clash, even though it would all depend on how he ‘pulls up’. The home team, however, will hand a World Cup debut to James Vince and plans to see him as the opener.

In its previous outing against the West Indies, England showed its depth in batting with Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root, who scored a ton. The duo stitched a solid opening partnership with Chris Woakes chipping in with a steady knock of 40 at No.3. And with chances of Moeen Ali coming in for the rubber, England has enough batting in its reserves.

Though it came into the tournament with a lot of promise, Afghanistan has had a disappointing campaign so far — losing all four of its games — and against a higher-ranked England, the going could get tougher for the Gulbadin Naib-led side.

The Afghans, who are featuring in their second World Cup, have struggled in all departments. The batsmen have failed to settle in, while its spin weapons — Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran — have looked off-colour. Considered a game changer in the shortest format, expectations were riding high on Rashid but the 19-year-old has bagged only three wickets so far. With most of its players featuring in their first World Cup, inexperience is reflecting on their performances and that’s a worry.

Tuesday’s fixture will be played on the same surface used by India and Pakistan on Sunday, which favoured the Indian spinners. Afghanistan will be hoping to put pressure on the England batting line-up. England captain Morgan admitted that spin is ‘probably Afghanistan’s strongest component as a team’.

“It's a challenge that we have to overcome. Pretty much every time we play against an Asian team, that's the case,” Morgan said on the eve of the match.