Asia Cup 2022, IND vs AFG: Can Afghanistan be a pain in the back for India?
India hopes to finish the Super 4 stage of Asia Cup 2022 on a high as it takes on Afghanistan in Dubai on Thursday. However, known for its tricky approach and unpredictable gameplay, the Afghans can seriously challenge the Indians.
All but out of the accounting for the summit clash, a confused Team India will aim to put its house in order before facing a fearless Afghanistan side. It could be a proverbial banana peel on Thursday in its final Super 4 tie of the 2022 Asia Cup at the Dubai International Stadium. The Indian side hasn't performed to its full potential in the Super 4 stage. At the same time, lack of resources and imperfect team selection are also to be blamed for successive demoralising losses against arch-rival Pakistan and Sri Lanka. What hurts the current Indian side is the lack of flexibility in its planning, and possibly a few fingers could be aimed at head coach Rahul Dravid.
Dravid seems wary of taking a few tough calls regarding team selections as the side does not seem to have a Plan B in its arsenal. Against this backdrop, an Afghanistan side with top-quality Twenty20 (T20) players like Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Zadran, Mohammed Nabi, Hazratullah Zazai and the exciting Rahamanullah Gurbaz can come out with all guns blazing.
Afghanistan is a side that can chase down targets in the 170-odd range, thanks to its power hitters. It can also restrict the opposition to painless totals, with the leader of the attack, Rashid threatening the opponent. What goes against the Fghans as a side is the collective inexperience of not playing bigger teams regularly. However, T20 is one format where an individual performance can decisively tilt the scales.
Afghanistan's side has multiple such players who can irritate the apple cart. Regarding India, the head coach and skipper Rohit Sharma haven't yet indicated any tendency to switch the batting order and study other prospects. It would be absorbing to see if wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik is fetched back for the final match instead of fellow wk-batter Rishabh Pant or Deepak Hooda.
Hooda, who batted at seven, wasn't offered an over to bowl, and the skipper upheld the move by stating that the presence of a couple of rampaging Sri Lankan openers (Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis) didn't allow him to present the Baroda man. Also, the Lanka contest proved that India couldn't afford to have all-rounder Hardik Pandya as the specialist fifth bowler, which could place a hefty load on him.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal did find some mojo back with three wickets, but India would require someone like pacer Deepak Chahar, who has to be tried out ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia from next month. While opener Rohit has shown positivity against Pakistan and Lanka, one would desire the skipper to take an inspired call and reform the top three for matches to notice if there is any pronounced difference in the outcomes and the technique.
One reason India cannot finish matches at the death has been senior seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar's skimpy penultimate overs in straight games. It left young pacer Arshdeep Singh with only seven runs to defend in both contests. Skipper Rohit, however, recommended everyone not be too brutal on Bhuvneshwar. Even experienced bowlers go for runs. Bhuvi has been playing for us for so many years and has won us many matches in death overs," Rohit said in his senior seamer's defence.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul (vc & wk), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Deepak Chahar.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi (c), Najibullah Zadran (vc), Afsar Zazai (wk), Azmatullah Omarzai, Farid Ahmad Malik, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Hazratullah Zazai, Ibrahim Zadran, Karim Janat, Mujib ur Rahman, Najibullah Zadran, Naveen ul Haq, Noor Ahmad, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Rashid Khan and Samiullah Shinwari.
Date and day: September 8, 2022 (Thursday)
Venue: Dubai International Stadium, Dubai
Time: 7.30 PM (IST)
Where to watch (TV): Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 Hindi & Sports Select (Also available in HD)
Where to watch (Online): Hotstar