T20 World Cup: Confident India eager to kick off Super 8 on high against giant slayers Afghanistan

Bridgetown, Jun 19 (IANS): After going unbeaten in the Group A matches of the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup in the USA, despite the pitches in New York being tough for batting, a confident Team India will be eager to kick off its Super Eights campaign in the Caribbean on a high when they take on giant slayers Afghanistan at the Kensington Oval on Thursday.

A change in conditions will also mean a change in combination for India, who have four spinners in their World Cup squad. With conditions being friendly for fast bowlers in New York, it meant someone like Kuldeep Yadav didn’t get a look into the playing eleven in Group A games.

With the scene of the setting now becoming the West Indies, it will be interesting to see if India play an extra spinner in Kuldeep Yadav, who brings in a different variety and control, as compared to Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel.

If that move happens, especially with Kuldeep sweating it hard at the practice sessions so far, then Mohammed Siraj is likely to make way, especially with Arshdeep Singh's left-arm variety needed to pose tough questions to Afghanistan batters along with Jasprit Bumrah hitting top form.

But with the breeze flowing at Barbados, the fast-bowlers will have a larger say, as data shows their ilk have picked 40 wickets here in this World Cup. The thought of picking the right combination is something which will keep India on their toes, as every result in Super Eights will be key in deciding their progression into the last four stage.

The last match of the World Cup at Barbados saw Australia make 201, and restrict England to 165/6. It’s an encouraging statistic for India, who were far from fluent and found it hard to even touch 120 at New York, and this would boost their batters to play their big shots with absolute conviction.

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli can bat freely in the power-play, and if the need arises to be ultra-attacking, they can take that route provided left-arm fast-bowler Fazalhaq Farooqi, the leading wicket-taker of the tournament, doesn’t get the ball to move both ways. Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dube and Hardik Pandya can be hard-hitting to emerge as match-winners in their own right whenever situations demand them to be.

Afghanistan, meanwhile, are having another fairytale time in a white-ball tournament after beating England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Netherlands in last year’s ODI World Cup. This year, they have looked like a top-tier team, showing consistency along with all-round performances and making the most of the experience of playing Caribbean Premier League consistently.

Thursday’s match against India is also the first time Afghanistan will play a day fixture in the World Cup, which brings a different set of challenges for the Rashid Khan-led side. After slaying New Zealand, Uganda and Papua New Guinea in absolutely dominating fashion, Afghanistan were handed a 104-run loss by co-hosts West Indies.

Farooqi, who has taken 12 scalps in the tournament, will be backed by Afghanistan to get early wickets in power-play alongside Naveen-ul-Haq. Rashid along with Mohammed Nabi and Noor Ahmad must ensure they keep things tight in the middle overs through their controlled spin bowling.

In the batting department, in-form openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran hold huge importance, along with Gulbadin Naib, followed by Nabi and Rashid. They would wish for the likes of Azmatullah Omarzai and Karim Janat to step up too.

Afghanistan’s first-ever T20 World Cup game was co-incidentally against India in the Caribbean on May 1, 2010. 14 years later, in the same setting, the two teams will meet again, this time in the Super Eights, and every result will have a huge bearing on their semifinals chances, starting from Thursday.


India: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Sanju Samson (wk), Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.

Afghanistan: Rashid Khan (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Azmatullah Omarzai, Najibullah Zadran, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Mohammad Ishaq, Nangyal Kharoti, Hazratullah Zazai, Noor Ahmad, and Fareed Ahmad Malik.

Match Referee: David Boon

On-field Umpires: Rodney Tucker and Paul Reiffel

TV Umpire: Allahudien Paleker

Fourth Umpire: Alex Wharf

Match starts at 8pm IST on Star Sports (TV) and Disney+ Hotstar (Mobile).



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Title: T20 World Cup: Confident India eager to kick off Super 8 on high against giant slayers Afghanistan

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