Cricket World Cup 2019: After five-day gap, India eye semi-final passage against Afghanistan in Southampton
Virat Kohli fine-tunes at The Rose Bowl ahead of India vs Afghanistan. © AFP

SOUTHAMPTON: After a five-day gap, the Indian cricket team resumes its campaign in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on Saturday at The Rose Bowl, eyeing easy points against the winless Afghanistan.

India have been hit by the exit of Shikhar Dhawan from the World Cup and they are without Bhuvneshwar Kumar for at least two games, but are still the favourites in match 28 of the tournament. Vijay Shankar turned up for the pre-match press conference, as good as sign as any that he is fit to play after being hit on the toe by Jasprit Bumrah in the nets on Wednesday.

With seven points, India are fourth on the World Cup points table and will expect to move to nine points at The Rose Bowl.

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Afghanistan have lost all five of their matches, and now face the tournament heavyweights. To be fair to them, the teams they could logically expect to beat given their success against them in the 2018 Asia Cup, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, lie ahead. Afghanistan fought against Australia in their opening match in Bristol, and despite conceding 397 against England in their previous fixture they were able to bat out 50 overs in reply, scoring 247/8.

That is the kind of score they were able to put up in last year’s Asia Cup, to give themselves a chance at winning ODIs. But in England, on flat surfaces at small grounds, they have struggled. A big factor in their 0-5 record at this World Cup is the absence of consistency from their two biggest stars, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan. Their skipper Gulbadin Naib accepted that the level of cricket Afghanistan are capable of playing has not been on show in England, and hoped that a new day brought better performances.

Match details

What: India vs Afghanistan

When: Saturday, June 22

Where: The Rose Bowl, Southampton

Time: 10:30am local (3:00pm IST)

Weather: The forecast is for a fairly sunny day, with temperatures ranging from 12 to 20 degrees Celsius.

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India

Shankar told reporters that he was hopeful of playing, which is a diplomatic way of revealing that he is fit for selection. Mohammed Shami will replace Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is fighting a race against time to be fit for India’s match against England on June 30. Bhuvneshwar has not bowled in any of India’s net sessions since he pulled a hamstring during last Sunday’s game with Pakistan, and was seen at The Rose Bowl undergoing basic muscle-related drills.

India likely XI: 1 KL Rahul, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Vijay Shankar, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Gulbadin Naib captain
Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib: ” If we play 50 overs, maybe there will be a good total on the board.” © AFP

Afghanistan

There are no injury concerns, and Naib said on Friday that he could open the innings again but that there is no fixed plan.

Afghanistan likely XI: 1 Noor Ali Zadran, 2 Gulbadin Naib, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi, 5 Asghar Afghan, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Najibullah Zadran, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Ikram Alikhil (wk), 10 Dawlat Zadran, 11 Mujeeb-ur-Rahman

Pitch and conditions

The pitch for Saturday’s match is distinctly tawny-coloured, which indicates runs are on offer.

Stats

Head to head, India and Afghanistan have played two ODIs. India won one and the second was tied, during the Asia Cup in 2018.

India’s ODI record at The Rose Bowl is 2-2.

Rahmat Shah needs 24 runs to surpass Asghar Afghan and become Afghanistan’s third-highest run-getter in ODIs.

Quotes

“Last game gave me some confidence, and especially playing against Pakistan, making my debut against them. It was a very special thing for me, performing under pressure and coming out good.” – Vijay Shankar

“But if you look for the last four games, we didn’t do good anything. We didn’t do well. So that’s why we lost the game. But we’re trying to put good things of the match on the day, but it’s our bad luck.” – Gulbadin Naib