India has been plagued with injuries since the start of the tournament. After losing Shikhar Dhawan only in their second game, they lost Bhuvneshwar Kumar in their fourth due to a hamstring injury. The one thing which would be heartening to the Indian camp is that despite these setbacks different players have stood up to be counted. KL Rahul who was sent to open against Pakistan played an important inning and Vijay Shankar who was thrown the ball after Bhuvneshwar Kumar left the field rewarded the captain with 2 wickets.
The batting and bowling have so far looked really strong for India with the top order firing. The one thing which will still bother India is the lack of match practice for the middle order. Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni, and Kedar Jadhav have hardly spent time in the middle which might cause them some grief later in the tournament. The bowling attack will have a new combination this game with Mohammad Shami partnering Jasprit Bumrah in this game but the rest of the attack is expected to be the same. Even though Rishabh Pant has been roped in as the replacement for injured Shikhar Dhawan, Vijay Shankar is expected to keep his place in the XI.
For Afghanistan, though this has been a nightmare of a competition. They started off very well by defeating Pakistan in their practice game but things have gone downhill from there. Their bowling has fallen apart with their star bowler Rashid Khan becoming most expensive bowler in the World Cup. Their batting has had issues since the start of the competition after the controversial exit of their hard-hitting opener Mohammad Shahzad. They would have to show lots of discipline with the bat and the ball to trouble India in this game.
Head to Head:
Both these teams have met only twice in ODIs with India winning once and the other game ending in an exciting tie in the Asia Cup last year.
Virat Kohli (India): India’s top order has been brilliant in their 3 complete games so far. Virat Kohli himself has two fifties in 3 games and has molded his game to play slightly differently this tournament. His is expected to do that in this game as well and that will be important for India as the rest of the batters play around him.
Kuldeep Yadav (India): Kuldeep Yadav looked to have rediscovered some form against Pakistan. Even though a break of one week might not have been ideal he can really be a threat to the hard-hitting Afghan batters. With his variations, he will be important in restricting the batters in the middle overs.
Hashmatullah Shahidi (Afghanistan): Afghanistan had a horrible game against England in the field and even though they were chasing an improbable target, Shahidi stuck around and made sure his team batted out the 50 overs with a good 76. In a struggling batting line up, he will once again be important to guide the middle order against the Indian bowling attack.
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan): Rashid Khan is a champion bowler. He is widely respected in the cricketing circles. Even though he had a horror game against England he for sure will be expected to bounce back with a better performance against India. His team needs a good bowling day and Rashid will be an important part of that goal.
What they said?
“In white ball cricket, since I’ve been playing, England has the flattest wickets, it’s the most difficult place for a bowler. Usually, there is no help, sometimes it feels that when it’s cloudy the ball swings but it doesn’t swing, nor does it seam,” said Bumrah about the pitches in England in recent times.
“They played really well. But Rashid, I think he’s one of the strongest mind players now, so he learns everything very quickly. He also learns from mistakes. This is the good thing of Rashid. I saw him today, and he’s totally different. He didn’t think about the last day or what happened on the next to last day” Said Afghan skipper Gulbadin Naib about his ace bowler Rashid Khan.
Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
Noor Ali Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Ikram Ali Khil, Dawlat Zadran/Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb ur Rahman
Even though Afghanistan batted reasonably well against England in the last game, their margin of defeat was still 150 runs. They are expected to give a better account of themselves in the field against India but again the latter may be just too strong for them in these conditions. India with their superior all-round cricket is expected to win this game but not without some fight from the opposition.