Big picture

Fifteen months ago, Afghanistan and West Indies faced off in the finals of the World Cup Qualifiers in Harare. It was a landmark day in Afghanistan's young cricketing history as they toppled the two-time World Cup winners to make a statement that they deserved to be here.

Unfortunately, the only statement that the world seems to remember from their 2019 campaign is Gulbadin Naib's "Hum to dube hai sanam, tujhe bhi lekar dubenge (we are already drowned darling, but we'll take you with us) quip ahead of the match against Bangladesh.

Beyond that, of course, there are those who would say they should have beaten India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. In each of those games, their lack of experience and poor tactics were exposed. However, the bigger question still stares at them: did they give themselves the best chance to compete? Should they have tinkered with their leadership?

Then, there was also the controversy over Mohammad Shahzad's injury even as the wicketkeeper-batsman claimed to be a victim of board politics. Public differences between the sacked selection committee chief and outgoing head coach Phil Simmons haven't helped them either. Now in their final game, they would want to give Simmons a fitting farewell.

For West Indies, this World Cup promised much more. Their battery of young players - Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer - are being hailed as some of the best talent to emerge in recent times. Chris Gayle wanted it to be his swansong, Andre Russell brought with him the threat that made him IPL's MVP. Shannon Gabriel's fire, Oshane Thomas' pace and Jason Holder's bounce brought with it a fine fast-bowling cocktail.

They had Australia tottering at 38 for 4, posted 300 plus against Bangladesh, came within one blow of victory against New Zealand and then squandered a winning position against Sri Lanka. How could it all go wrong? It's a question they would do well to answer, although they will be the first to admit that they have underachieved. Ahead of their flight back for a home series against India, they'd want to carry back some happy memories.

Form guide

West Indies:LLLLL (Last five completed matches, most recent first)

In the spotlight

Not too many selection committees gamble on a batsman with just one ODI under his belt ahead of a World Cup. Yet, as they leave, Nicholas Pooran's batting has been among the biggest positives for West Indies. His 118 against Sri Lanka is the highest by a West Indies player this World Cup. He's the only West Indies batsman to average above 40 this tournament. Against Sri Lanka, he fell with his side needing 31 in three overs. If he gets into a similar situation, he'd be itching to finish it off and prove it to be his next step of learning.

Gulbadin Naib may have well replayed the 46th over against Pakistan many times over in his head. He'd perhaps do things differently if he could warp back in a time machine. Could he have bowled Samiullah Shinwari? Would that have left Pakistan needing 18 or 20 off the final over? Could they have won? Now, Naib has a final opportunity to leave his mark on the world stage.

Team news

Kemar Roach trained full-tilt, a hint that he could be back for West Indies. Hamid Hasan's injury for Afghanistan could mean a debut for left-arm medium pacer Sayed Shirzad.

West Indies (probable): 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Sunil Ambris, 3 Shai Hope (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Nicholas Pooran, 6 Jason Holder (capt), 7 Carlos Brathwaite, 8 Fabian Allen, 9 Sheldon Cottrell, 10 Oshane Thomas, 11 Kemar Roach

Afghanistan: (probable): 1 Rahmat Shah, 2 Gulbadin Naib (capt), 3 Hashmatullah Shahidi 4 Ikram Alikhil (wk), 5 Asghar Afghan, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Samiullah Shenwari, 10 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 11 Sayed Shirzad

Pitch and conditions

Forecast is for a bright start, with cloud cover and possibly some rain towards the evening. This could make the toss tricky. Do you then play for DLS or go with the tried-and-tested mantra of batting first, batting big and choking the opponents? As such, both sides have chased poorly. They may as well bat first when the surface is at its best.

Strategy punt

  • Three matches at No. 5, five games at No. 6. Afghanistan haven't maximised Mohammad Nabi's utility. Branding him a finisher has meant he's largely batted when games have all been decided, the India clash being an exception. They need to find a way to slot him a spot higher.
  • Gayle isn't comfortable against spin upfront. Not if the bowler at the other end is Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Remember the qualifier final last year? A googly that drew him forward, only to rip away and crash into the stumps. Since then, of course, Gayle and Mujeeb have been team-mates at the IPL. Can Afghanistan look to play on his ego once again?
  • Stats and trivia

    • Sheldon Cottrell's seven wickets are the most for a bowler inside the first 10 overs this World Cup
    • Afghanistan have used five opening pairs, the most by any team this tournament
    • West Indies average 11.1 for the first wicket, the lowest among all teams
    • Mujeeb's economy rate of 4.3 is the best among spinners who have bowled at least 20 overs
    • Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo