By Rex Clementine

Afghanistan could reach their first ever World Cup semi-final if they played like they did against Australia on Saturday. Mitchell Marsh’s side, meanwhile, are feeling the pinch and not even a win over formidable India will take them through as Afghanistan have the last say on their fate. Australia need to win big over India to ensure that they go through instead of Afghanistan.

Australia will take on India in St. Lucia on Monday and later in the day Afghanistan will play Bangladesh in St. Vincent’s.

If India wins and Afghanistan beat Bangladesh, then former champions Australia will be knocked out of the competition.

India aren’t in the danger zone of missing out thanks to their superior Net Run Rate even if they lose Monday’s fixture.  

Australia surprised many by leaving out their star performer Mitchell Starc for the Afghanistan game and paid the price. The left-arm quick is expected to make a return to the side against India.

The form of their captain is another concern for Australia. Mitchell Marsh is playing this competition as a specialist batsman and hasn’t bowled. The impressive run of the openers has overshadowed Marsh’s poor run but when Travis Head and David Warner fail to make an impact and Marsh at number three falls cheaply Australia have struggled with the bat as showcased against Afghanistan.

India have remained unbeaten in the tournament and would not want to do any experiment with the semi-finals fast approaching. They know too well that experiments like Australai’s could cost team dearly in a format where things can start happening quick.

India’s bowling has looked deadly and they will be hoping that the top order clicks before the business end of the competition.

Afghanistan’s top order fired on Saturday and rest of the batters had to just take chances in a bid to swell the total and that put Australia under lot of pressure. Their fielding was also tremendous to watch and if Afghanistan play with the energy they exhibited earlier in St. Vincent’s there’s no reason why they should not go through.

It was a huge moment for Bangladesh to make it to the Super Eight stage when other formidable sides like Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand could not go beyond the first round. They would want to sign off the campaign in a high note and a win over Afghanistan would make them feel satisfied with their campaign.

More importantly they have identified a few match winners with the performances of all-rounder Rishad Hossain standing out.