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Finch highlights threat of ‘dangerous’ Afghanistan

Aaron fINCH

Reigning champions Australia faced Afghanistan on home turf four years ago at the previous ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, and the hosts proved overwhelmingly destructive, striking 417 with the bat before an impressive bowling performance saw them to 275-run win.

And while they succumbed to a thumping defeat to England in their final warm-up match earlier this week, Finch mentioned Afghanistan’s three-wicket win over Pakistan last Friday as an indicator of what they are capable of, while also highlighting the feel-good nature of their rise in world cricket.

“If you take your foot off the gas for a second they will hurt you,” said Finch, “and you still have to play at your absolute best to beat them.”

“To see their growth in the last four years in particular has been huge. Even them winning their warm-up game against Pakistan, they played brilliantly. They bowled excellent, they batted excellent. They got such a huge following of cricket fans in Afghanistan and some huge marquee players that are so sought after around the world. Cricket is growing quicker and quicker there and it’s a great story.

“I was talking to their captain Gulbadin [Naib] the other day and he was saying how passionate their fans are and how they have support all over the world now which is huge for the game of cricket.”

In regards to his own side, Finch confirmed David Warner’s availability for Saturday’s match, with the left-hander having recovered from a glute injury.

“Davey is fine. He will play tomorrow, no doubt about that,” said Finch, who added that Australia’s XI will be named at the toss.

With Australia amidst a run of excellent form – their victories in the warm-ups followed on from a run of eight consecutive wins in ODIs – Finch explained the positive conundrum on his hands.

“Everyone’s hitting the ball well in the nets, everyone is bowling well. It’s a real positive – anytime anyone’s been given an opportunity, everyone has taken it, which makes selection so hard, but it’s a good position to be in all the same.”

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