World T20 2014: Afghanistan vs. Nepal Latest Form, Key Stats and Preview

Dan Brett@@DanBrett90Contributor IIIMarch 19, 2014

Afghanistan cricketers Shafiqullah, right and captain Mohammad Nabi celebrate their victory over Hong Kong during their ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match in Chittagong, Bangladesh, Tuesday, March 18, 2014. Afghanistan won by seven wickets.(AP Photo/Bikas Das)
Bikas Das/Associated Press

Afghanistan and Nepal look to be playing for pride in their final Group A match. They hold only an outside chance of qualifying for the Super 10s, as both sides rely upon Hong Kong beating Bangladesh.

To remain in the tournament, they will have to win by a big margin and hope that Hong Kong can pull off a similar feat in their match against group leaders Bangladesh, which appears highly unlikely.

Afghanistan coach Kabir Khan said he believes his side still hold a "one percent chance" of making the Super 10 stage, according to ESPNcricinfo's Alan Gardner:

Every match is important and we want to win, obviously now we are in a position to plan to win with big margins. Cricket is a funny game and we are expecting a one percent chance of anybody beating Bangladesh here. But if someone beats Bangladesh, we have to keep our chances alive, at least the run rate should be higher and if that happens and our run rate is there, then we could qualify.

If Khan's men are to progress, they will be hoping for more big hitting from Muhammad Shahzad and Shafiqullah.

Shahzad displayed a varied catalogue of shots during his 68-run haul against Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Shafiqullah scored an impressive 24-ball half-century to notch 51, showing Afghanistan's ability to score big when it matters.

Bikas Das/Associated Press

Like their opponents, Nepal can move level on points with Bangladesh with victory on Thursday, as highlighted by ESPNcricinfo.

If Hong Kong manage to beat Bangladesh, top spot will then be dictated by Net Run Rate, with the current leaders on plus-2.686.

Nepal's current rate of plus-1.213 puts them some way behind Bangladesh, and with Afghanistan on a negative score of minus-1.271, Nepal are seen as the biggest threats to the leaders.

Journalist Sushil Sharma tweeted support for Nepal, highlighting that every underdog has its day in cricket:

For both sides, it's a matter of scoring big runs if they are to progress, but with Bangladesh sitting pretty at the top of the league, their efforts could be dashed regardless of victory.


Key Stats

A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

Of the batting averages in T20 internationals, Shahzad's average of 28.56 in T20 internationals—per ESPNcricinfo—highlights the danger he can cause with the bat.

Shahzad has also hit 16 sixes, the highest of any of his current team-mates, with 71 fours to show his power with the bat.

Shafiqullah will be looking to up his own average of just 12.90. His recent knock of 51 was his highest score in four years of batting for Afghanistan.

Nepal are the more inexperienced of the two nations, featuring in just two T20 internationals, per ESPNcricinfo.

Gyanendra Malla is arguably the biggest threat with the bat, boasting a high score of 48. He has also scored the only six of his nation's T20 campaign, with a share of 30 fours across five batsmen.


Latest Form

Bikas Das/Associated Press

Afghanistan go into the match on the back of a seven-wicket victory over Hong Kong.

They fell to a nine-wicket defeat in their opening match but found steady rhythm against their second-fixture opponents to change their fortunes.

Nepal, on the other hand, bagged an opening-day victory over Hong Kong to see off their opponents by 80 runs. The win saw them become the first Associate nation to record a win at the World T20 in five years, per ESPNcricinfo.

Bikas Das/Associated Press

However, their second fixture proved an altogether different test, with Bangladesh punishing their top order in an eight-wicket thumping.

Now, Afghanistan and Nepal must look for heavy wins of their own to apply some pressure back onto Bangladesh.