After losing two straight matches, India’s cricket team will try to win their first match and get their season back on track when they play a confident Afghanistan in a super 12 encounter at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
In their last two matches, Virat Kohli’s led team India have suffered crushing defeats against Pakistan and New Zealand, while Afghanistan has won two games against Scotland and Namibia but lost to Pakistan.
In their last against the Kiwis, India shuffled the batting order as Ishan Kishan, who replaced the injured Suryakumar Yadav, opened the batting alongside KL Rahul. However, the move to push Ishan at the top and demote regular opener, Rohit Sharma, at No 3 didn’t produce great results for India.
Many former cricketers and experts have criticised the team management for demoting Rohit and it remains to be seen whether the star opener will bat at his regular position in the upcoming match or not.
Meanwhile, Hardik Pandya has failed to impress with his performance, and Suryakumar Yadav might replace him in the side for the Afghanistan match if he becomes fit and available. In addition, the team may consider inserting star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in place of Varun Chakravarthy, who has struggled under pressure.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, has played excellent attacking cricket thus far in the tournament and is full of confidence. Mohammed Nabi and Rashid Khan, for example, would try to use their extensive T20 experience to test an under-confident Indian team.
Due to an injury, young spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman was unable to play against Namibia, and his replacement, Hamid Hassan, took three wickets for nine runs in four overs. Mujeeb, on the other hand, is likely to earn a spot in Afghanistan’s starting XI, given Indian batsmen’ struggles against spinners in the last two games.
Hazratullah Zazai, Ahmed Shahzad, and Gulbadin Naib, for example, will be eager to continue their entertaining batsmanship.
After losing two consecutive games, India’s fate is not in their own hands and another defeat will confirm their early exit from the T20 World Cup. They will have to win their remaining matches by big margins to ensure their net run rate can be improved and they stand a chance at qualifying.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (VC), KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rahul Chahar, Varun Chakravarthy, Ravichandran Ashwin
Afghanistan: Mohammed Nabi (captain), Hazratullah Zazai, Ahmed Shahzad, Gulbadin Naib, Naveen ul Haq, Rashid Kham, Hamid Hasan, Rahamnaullah Gurbaz, Najibullah Zadran, Karim Janat, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Fareed Ahmed, Usman Ghani.
(With IANS inputs)