India will look to win big against Afghanistan, and hope for a miracle from other matches © AFP
By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Mar 4, 2014
In all likelihood, India will finish their Asia Cup 2014 campaign against a spirited Afghanistan side on Wednesday at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium at Mirpur near Dhaka, Bangladesh. India would depend on numerous permutations and combinations to get through to the next round, with them mainly depending on Bangladesh to beat Pakistan on Tuesday. If Pakistan sail through, India are out. India can only hope to put up a good performance, while Afghanistan would want to impress as they take on another Test side that has been struggling in recent times.
Virat Kohli wouldn’t tinker with the batting line-up as that is India’s biggest strength, although it stuttered against Pakistan. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are in good touch at the top. Kohli is the irreplaceable No 3 with Ajinkya Rahane to No 4. With Ambati Rayudu coming good in the last game, Cheteshwar Pujara’s chances diminish. But, there might be a case to perhaps rest someone and get Pujara in. After all, India have nothing to lose. At the same time, Dinesh Karthik hasn’t set the world on fire in this tournament and some of his glovework has come under intense scrutiny.
As far as the bowling goes, India may want to keep the same line-up going. Amit Mishra’s inclusion added more sting to the line-up and he combined well with Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin. The fast bowling department will continue to be a concern. But, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami are the main options and one doesn’t expect any changes for this game. If Pakistan beat Bangladesh easily, then perhaps India may revise their strategies.
Afghanistan have a fairly settled unit with a few players who have already impressed on the big stage. Mohammad Shahzad, their wicketkeeper, can be an attacking opening batsman upfront and can be quite inventive in his strokeplay. At the other end, they have a fearless Karim Sadiq. In the middle, Asghar Stanikzai, Nawroz Mangal, Mohammad Nabi and Samiullah Shenwari are the main men. Skipper Nabi and former captain Mangal are due for a good score and they may as well produce the goods against India.
Shapoor Zadran and Hamid Hassan form a very good bowling partnership for Afghanistan. Zadran is quite effective with his left-arm angle and complements Hassan well. Hassan brings pace into the equation and is one of best players in Afghanistan. But, they may also consider getting in a Dawlat Zadran to do the job for them. In fact, Afghanistan have quite a bit of depth in their bowling with Nabi rolling his arm for the off-spinners and Mirwais Ashraf also contributing with his medium-pace.
Afghanistan would want to put pressure on India as the side is struggling. They had Pakistan in a spot of bother in their first game before Umar Akmal’s pyrotechnics put the stronger side in charge. Afghanistan have to capitalise on the crucial moments if they come their way during the game against India. On the other hand, India can only hope that their campaign stays alive when they come into this contest. They are the clear favourites for this game though!
India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Varun Aaron, Cheteshwar Pujara, Stuart Binny.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi (c), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Karim Sadiq, Nawroz Mangal, Asghar Stanikzai, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Mirwais Ashraf, Hamza Hotak, Hamis Hassan, Shapoor Zadran, Dawlat Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran, Fazal Niazai, Rahmat Shah.
Time: 13:30 IST | 08:30 GMT
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)