England v Afghanistan: All you need to know

2019 Cricket World Cup
Jofra Archer England Bangladesh World Cup PA

What is it?
England v Afghanistan in a World Cup group game. Afghanistan are all but out of contention after losing their first four games – they haven’t even managed to pick up a point from a washout, miraculously. England, by contrast, will go top with a victory and another step closer to securing a last-four spot. You can check out the latest standings here.

When is it?
Tuesday June 18, starting at 10.30am British “Summer” Time. Weather permitting, of course. Always weather permitting.

Where is it?
At Old Trafford, and on the same pitch used for India v Pakistan on Sunday which could bring Afghanistan’s array of spinners into the equation. You can be fairly certain that after the respite against West Indies England will be back to starting against spin here. Get more details on Old Trafford here.

Where can I watch it?
It’s on Sky Sports Main Event (ch 401) and Sky Sports Cricket (ch 404) in the UK.

What are the odds?
Prohibitive. England are as short a favourite as we’ll see all tournament long at 1/20 to collect their fourth win of the tournament, while Afghanistan are 8/1 to spring one of the all-time World Cup shocks.

England v Afghanistan team news
Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan both limped off the field in England’s victory over West Indies. Roy is definitely out with a hamstring tear – he will also miss Friday’s game against Sri Lanka at the very least. Morgan is more upbeat on his back spasm, but England still have a decision to make on whether to risk him in what is, on paper and also almost certainly on grass, the easiest assignment of the tournament. James Vince would be the obvious contender to replace Roy, although whether he slots in as opener or goes to number three is less clear than it would have been given Joe Root’s classy unbeaten century as makeshift opener on Friday.

Morgan’s possible absence, meanwhile, would offer England a route to get Moeen Ali back into the side. While out of form with the bat he has pedigree, and another spin option couldn’t hurt on a used track. Vice-captain Jos Buttler will again lead the side, as he did against West Indies with a successful DRS review first ball, should Morgan miss out.

England at the 2019 World Cup

May 30: England (311/8, 50/50 overs) beat South Africa (207, 39.5/50 overs) by 104 runs
June 3: Pakistan (348/8, 50/50 overs) beat England (334/9, 50/50 overs) by 14 runs
June 8: England (386/6, 50/50 overs) beat Bangladesh (280, 48.5/50 overs) by 106 runs
June 14: England (213/2, 33.1/50 overs) beat West Indies (212, 44.4/50 overs) by eight wickets

Afghanistan at the 2019 World Cup

June 1: Australia (209/3, 34.5/50 overs) beat Afghanistan (207, 38.2/50 overs) by seven wickets
June 4: Sri Lanka (201, 36.5/41 overs) beat Afghanistan (152, 32.4/41 overs) by 34 runs (DLS method)
June 8: New Zealand (173/3, 32.1/50 overs) beat Afghanistan (172, 41.1/50 overs) by seven wickets
June 15: South Africa (131/1, 28.4/48 overs, target: 127) beat Afghanistan (125, 28.4/48 overs) by nine wickets (DLS method)

England v Afghanistan betting preview

Two obvious things to start. England will almost certainly win, but 1/20 isn’t doing a lot for us.

It’s also worth noting that the way England chased their target against West Indies, and Afghanistan’s batting struggles means you need to take care with any England top batsman bet. If England are batting second, there is a very real chance that you’re only looking at two or three runners.

Whichever order England’s likely top three here of Vince, Bairstow and Root emerge in, Root is a worthy favourite. Vince is unproven at this level, Bairstow hasn’t quite been at his brilliant best in this tournament and Root has two centuries and a 50 in four innings. He is also equally comfortable against spin and pace – important against Pakistan – which cannot be said of Bairstow.

Root is 13/5 to be top England batsman, but we’d be looking to boost that and take the enhanced 4/1 Power Price on offer with Paddy Power that he is the top match batsman. It goes without saying there is nobody of his class in Afghanistan’s line-up, while they also face a tougher bowling attack in English conditions.

Joe Root England West Indies World Cup PA

For Afghanistan, Rashid Khan looks a really live outsider to be their top batsman at 45/1. His 35 down the order took the spoils against South Africa, while he also made a quick-fire 27 against Australia.

If Afghanistan collapse again against Archer, Plunkett, Wood and Woakes – something that seems reasonably likely whether early in the morning or later on when faced with (in all likelihood) a huge chase – then it may once again take little to win this market.

Rashid is too good and his team-mates too flawed for 45/1 to be the right price here.

Another bet to consider might be Afghanistan to hit the most sixes at 3/1. If they bat first and fail to put a decent total on the board, England – potentially without two of their main six-hitters through injury while others like Buttler and Stokes may not even make it to the crease – could decide to do what they did against West Indies and cruise to the target without needing to look for the big shots. England absolutely thrashed West Indies in Friday’s game. The final score in the sixes contest, though? A 6-0 ‘win’ for the Windies.

Best Bets:

Paddy’s Power Prices

Key Men

Jofra Archer (England)
Afghanistan have only reached 200 once in the tournament and not at all in their last three games. There is no doubt that bowling is Afghanistan’s stronger suit, and with England’s batting stocks reduced by injuries to Roy and Morgan this looks a game that should be won by the bowlers.

The bowlers, led by Archer did the job against West Indies last time out and England will be looking for Archer to once again terrorise the top order and blow away the tail. He has taken three wickets in three of England’s four games to date; that he went wicketless in their only defeat is no coincidence.

Afghanistan’s batsmen are talented but not always the most disciplined. So much is said about the astonishing pace Archer is able to generate from such a leisurely, smooth run-up and action, but just as important to his success is the accuracy. He bowls wicket to wicket and gives little away for free. He should have a fine old time.

Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
Undoubtedly one of the world’s great white-ball cricketers but he’s been a peripheral figure at this World Cup. He was unable to bowl against New Zealand after getting whacked on the head by Lockie Ferguson while batting, and has made little impact in other games.

This has been mainly down to Afghanistan simply not putting runs on the board. In the three games where they’ve batted first, they’ve put just 207, 172 and 125 on the board. Rashid needs more from his team-mates, but Afghanistan need more from their main man. As mentioned above, he may well have to do a decent chunk of that work with the bat.

Rashid Khan PA

World Cup head-to-head record: England 1 Afghanistan 0
England’s first and only World Cup meeting was momentous beyond that landmark. It was also the last ever ODI played by Old England. Their final game of the disastrous 2015 campaign. That England won by nine wickets while still not looking completely convincing says plenty about where they were as a side.

It was a rain-affected game in Sydney, in which Afghanistan’s interrupted 111/7 from 36.2 overs eventually translated to a chase of 101 from 25 overs for England. They got there in 18.1 thanks to 37 from Alex Hales and an unbeaten half-century from Ian Bell. A different time.