Pitted against a battered and bruised India, Afghanistan smell blood


Aryan Surana

Having lost their opening two games in miserable fashion against Pakistan and New Zealand, India's qualification hopes are hanging by the slimmest of thread in the T20 World Cup. Virat Kohli and his troops would like to bring their floundering campaign back on track by beating a feisty Afghanistan on Wednesday at Abu Dhabi.

India haven't been able to measure up to the lofty expectations and the performance that they have put in is not worthy of a semi-final spot even though mathematics keeps their hopes alive. Afghanistan, on the other hand, have expectedly won their two games against Scotland and Namibia and even managed to give Pakistan a tough fight for the better part of the match before Asif Ali changed the complexion with four sixes in one over.

In this backdrop, Mohammed Nabi and Rashid Khan would bring to the fore all their might and T20 freelancing experience to add insult to the Indian injury and prolong the nightmare that started on October 24. For Kohli, in most probably his last three matches as T20 captain of India, it is a matter of galvanizing his men back together and ensuring a display that justifies the calibre of the powerhouse that is India.

India must beat Afghanistan – preferably by a sizeable margin – and then hope and pray that Afghanistan can in turn beat New Zealand, which is possible given the way their bowlers have turned up at this World Cup. Rashid Khan continues to dominate the shortest format and Mujeeb Ur Rahman – provided he's recovered from injury – is another force to be reckoned with. Nothing is cast in stone just yet.

When: India vs Afghanistan, Super 12 Group 2, November 3, 18:00 Local, 19.30 IST

Where: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

What to expect: Chasing sides have won six out of the 8 games at this venue in the ongoing edition. But swimming against the tide, Afghanistan prefer batting first and then casting a spin web to choke the opposition. They did so against Namibia here but that was a day game. They will also be aware of India's bat-first worries and that could force an amendment in how they like going about their business.

Probable XIs:

India: Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Varun Chakravarthy

Afghanistan: Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Usman Ghani, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi (c), Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Karim Janat/Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Hamid Hassan, Naveen Ul Haq

Betting Odds: Despite their recent form, India are expected to win against Afghanistan; 1.25 in their favour. You can check out betfred offers here.