T20 World Cup: It will be a good battle between Farooqi and Indian top-order, says Ian Bishop

Bridgetown, June 19 (IANS) Former West Indies cricketer Ian Bishop believes the match-up between Afghanistan’s left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi and the Indian top-order will be a good battle during the Super Eight clash of 2024 men’s T20 World Cup at the Kensington Oval on Thursday.

With his skills to move the ball both ways, Farooqi is the leading wicket-taker of the tournament with 12 scalps, seven of which have came in the power-play. His battle against India’s top-order of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant under sunny Barbados skies could prove to be one of the decisive subplots in deciding the India-Afghanistan game.

“If the ball swings, Fazalhaq Farooqi will obviously be a handful when he comes up against any opposition. If it doesn’t swing, he’s not become impotent, but he loses a little bit of that bite. But I think they’ll be able to handle that well.”

“They’ve seen swing before, whether it’s left-arm or right-arm. So, I think it will be a good battle, but I think the class of India in particular is something that looks lot more true,” said Bishop while replying to an IANS query on the Star Sports Press Room show.

Entering into the Super Eights of a T20 World Cup for the first time is a continuation of Afghanistan’s remarkable story in international cricket, whose first appearance in the tournament’s history came all the way back in 2010 in the Caribbean.

Apart from Farooqi, opener-keeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz is the leading run-getter, while he and Ibrahim Zadran have teamed up to smash two century-plus opening stands for Afghanistan in the competition.

Bishop appreciated Afghanistan for continuing to be a force to reckon with in international cricket, but feels that bulk of scoring being done by Gurbaz and Zadran so far is a pocket of weakness for them ahead of the clash against India.

“I think Afghanistan are a very good team. They are a continuously growing force in the world game, and particularly when they get conditions that are suitable to them. They’ve got a good, world-class spin bowling unit, and then they’ve got some good seam bowlers, particularly when they all have a lot of slower balls.”

“And you slowly can swing it when there is atmospheric conditions that align viscerally, and of course, Fazalhaq Farooqi and (Azmatullah) Omarzai. So, my one question with Afghanistan is that the opening batters seem to have to carry a lot of workload for them, whereas when you’ve got other teams, some of the better full-member nations have batters from top to all the way down to nine or ten.”

From an Indian perspective, spearhead pacer Jasprit Bumrah has been at his searing best in the tournament, seen from him picking back-to-back Player-of-the-Match awards against Ireland (2/6) and Pakistan (3/14), where his dismissal of Mohammad Rizwan laid the base for the Rohit Sharma-led side to claw back into the match and win by six runs.

Bishop believes batters are apprehensive of taking the attack to Bumrah due to a combination of what he can do and the reputation he’s carved since his international debut in 2016.

“Jasprit is smart, a good communicator who thinks about the game. It starts from the foundation, but he has also developed variations and knows better than most bowlers when to use his variations. You hear him say, it’s not every day I go hunting for wickets.”

“There are days I bowl my yorker at the stumps, days I bowl a wide yorker; there are days when I assess conditions and bowl my slower ball into the pitch or use my bouncer. In addition to that, he has other ingredients.

“He has a unique action where the ball gets on to you a lot quicker than batters anticipate, the full toss (that got Iftikhar Ahmed out) is because of that. Sometimes they don’t get smashed because they get on to you.”

“Of course, when you develop that reputation, like when I bowled with Curtly Ambrose, Matthew (Hayden) never put a foot wrong against Curtly because of his reputation, but he’d look to smash me. This guy is a generational bowler,” he concluded.



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