Afghanistan accuse Australia of ‘double standards’ as the teams meet in Mumbai with an eye on qualifying for the semifinals.
Who: Afghanistan vs Australia
When: Tuesday, November 7, 2023, 2pm (08:30 GMT)
Where: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, India
Australia face allegations of “double standards” from Afghanistan as the teams meet for their ICC Cricket World Cup match at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium with an eye on the semifinals.
In the run-up to Tuesday’s high-stakes match, Afghanistan fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq took to social media to suggest there was an element of hypocrisy in Cricket Australia (CA) scrapping a three-match one-day international (ODI) series against them but going ahead with a World Cup match when the five-time champions had something to lose.
“Refusing to play the bilateral series, now it will be interesting to see cricket Australia stand in the World Cup #standards #human rights or 2 points,” Naveen wrote on Instagram.
The CA abandoned the March series on the grounds that the Taliban, who regained power in 2021, had placed limits on education and work opportunities for Afghan women and girls, including female cricketers.
Australia star Steve Smith said the decision to play Afghanistan in a crunch World Cup match was “above my pay grade”.
“We obviously played against Afghanistan in the T20 World Cup at home recently, and we’re playing tomorrow [Tuesday], so it’s not a question for me. It’s far above my pay grade,” the former Australia captain said at a press conference on Monday.
All eyes on semifinal qualification
The Australian board had earlier responded to Naveen’s post with a spokesperson telling News Corp Australia: “CA made the decision not to proceed with the three-match ODI series against Afghanistan in March following the announcement by the Taliban of further restrictions on women’s rights, including education and employment opportunities and the access to parks and gymnasiums.
“There is a distinction between playing bilateral series against Afghanistan, which falls under CA control, as compared to playing in a World Cup tournament, which is an ICC [International Cricket Council] event and subject to their regulations.”
Tuesday’s World Cup match has plenty of significance for both sides with emerging nation Afghanistan still in contention for a semifinal place after winning four of their seven pool matches so far during the tournament.
Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi said he had no interest in looking back before of such an important fixture.
“I think right now we have a game tomorrow in the World Cup. If we focus on that instead of these things [the CA’s position on Afghanistan], it will be better,” Shahidi told reporters on Monday.
Meanwhile, five-time champions Australia still need to win one of their final two group games against Afghanistan and Bangladesh to secure a place in the knockout stage.
— ICC Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) November 6, 2023
Both teams head into the clash with a good run of form and with plenty of confidence in their chances of qualifying for the semifinals.
Afghanistan: W W W L W
Australia: W W W W W
Head to head
Australia have come out on top in all three of their ODI meetings with Afghanistan.
Afghanistan team news
Naveen, whose post reignited the controversy, could return to the Afghanistan side after being dropped in the last match and replace left-arm spinner Noor Ahmad.
There are no injury concerns for Afghanistan.
Australia team news
Smith has suffered a fresh attack of vertigo, a condition that has affected him several times in recent years.
“I’ve had a bit of vertigo stuff the last day or so, so it’s just been a bit annoying,” Smith said.
All-rounder Mitchell Marsh has returned to India after the death of his grandfather, and Glenn Maxwell is in contention again after missing the victory over England last time out after suffering a concussion as a result of falling off a golf buggy.