Less than 24 hours since Afghanistan put on the fight of their lives in defence of a lowly total in Sharjah, they’ll be out in Dubai to play what will be their last – and an inconsequential – fixture in the tournament. It’s been the kind of campaign where they came, they entertained, and now they leave empty-handed. But the last-over defeat to Pakistan shouldn’t dull their spirited performances over the last fortnight, during which they thoroughly bullied Sri Lanka – one of the finalists now – and dented Bangladesh’s chances of advancing.
Afghanistan batted fearlessly and bowled bravely, particularly on Wednesday night where the story could’ve been different had FazalHaq Farooqi landed his yorkers. Even their other defeat in the Super Four – to Sri Lanka – was a closely-fought, emotionally-draining contest that should hold them in good stead and give them the confidence they’d want to take to Australia for the next showpiece event in a month’s time.
India’s campaign has been about the tough selection choices and the small flaws while batting first that they need to address at the earliest before the T20 World Cup. Batting at the death let them down in both the Super Four games, while playing just five bowling options has also been limiting. The Afghanistan game thus, will become the first of seven T20Is that they play in the lead-up to the big tournament in Australia (3 vs SA and 3 vs AUS at home), where they can gain clarity on the dos and don’ts as far as combinations are concerned.
When: India vs Afghanistan, Super Four, Match 5, September 8, 06:00 PM Local time, 07:30 PM IST
Where: Dubai International Stadium
What to expect: Win toss, bowl first, win match? It has been that way in the Super Four fixtures where batting in the second innings has appeared to be a touch easier.
Head to head: India have played Afghanistan thrice in T20Is before with India winning all three contests. The last time India met Afghanistan in a T20 game, they were staring at an elimination from last year’s World Cup following defeats to Pakistan and New Zealand.
Injury/Unavailability: Avesh Khan is still out with a fever. If he is ruled out, Deepak Chahar – who is among the reserves – could fill in.
Tactics and match-ups: If India pick five pure bowlers again and use Hardik as the sixth option, he could be used specifically in the middle-overs where he has earned the best returns since January 2020 – 10 wickets in 38 overs with an economy rate of 7.63. Dinesh Karthik could get a look-in considering India have struggled with the bat at the death in both their Super Four defeats (46/2 in the last 5 overs vs Pakistan and 46/4 against Sri Lanka)
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Deepak Hooda/Axar Patel, Deepak Chahar/Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal
Injury/Unavailability: Given the turnaround time between this game and their last, there are going to be a lot of sore players in that side, but there are no confirmed absentees. Fareed Ahmed, who picked three, was seen limping after his spell.
Tactics and match-ups: In FazalHaq Farooqi and Fareed Ahmed, Afghanistan have two bowlers who can trouble all of India’s top-three who don’t match up well against left-arm pace. Mohammad Nabi’s use of Rashid Khan will be key too as the leggie matches up well against every Indian batter – except Rohit who has scored at a SR of 148.28 against him. Even with Rohit, Rashid has dismissed him thrice in the 29 balls he has bowled to him in T20s. None of the other batters strike at more than 120.
Probable XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Karim Janat, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fareed Ahmed, FazalHaq Farooqi
Did you know:
– Since the 2021 World Cup, Rohit Sharma has the highest PowerPlay strike rate in T20Is – 152.28. At 140.68, Nicholas Pooran is a distant second.
– Rashid Khan has bowled 43 deliveries to KL Rahul in T20s, conceding just 33 runs and dismissing the Indian opener thrice. Against Hardik, Rashid has given away only 27 runs in 37 balls and dismissed him twice.
What they said:
“I think somewhere down the line in a tournament like this where there are different opponents, the pressure is more. In a bilateral, you play 3-5 games against the same opponent so there you get to know that the opposition did this today so what kind of plans we need to come with tomorrow. But in a tournament like this – World Cup and Asia Cup – the challenge is different teams come up with different plans. We’ve spoken a lot about this, that we’ve to stay ahead of the opponents, have to think ahead, only then we’ll get results. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t make it to the later stages of the World Cup, now we’ve lost two games here.” – Rohit Sharma
“We didn’t leave the game at any stage. The boys fought on every ball. Again, it was the end, both with the bat and with the ball. We thought that we chased well against Bangladesh. We will try our best to play the last game with the same energy.” – Mohammad Nabi
Leave a Reply