Virat Kohli’s team will take on Afghanistan excited to stay alive in the T20 World Cup on Wednesday. India started the tournament as favorites but crashed out with two losses in the Super 12 stage and now need to win their last three group games and depend on others to get any chance of making the semi-finals. . Underdog Afghanistan are second in the table behind group leader Pakistan and another win will boost their hopes of a place in the last four.
Here are three talking points ahead of Wednesday’s major clash:
India’s disappointing batting
Totals of 151 (v Pakistan) and 110 (v New Zealand) are not usually associated with a team with world class batsmen including Kohli and Rohit Sharma. But India’s batting has been found to be weak against fast pace attacks from Pakistan and New Zealand on the Dubai pitch, which was recently one of the venues of the Indian Premier League.
In a procession against the Trent Boult-inspired Kiwi bowling line-up, KL Rahul (18), Ishan Kishan (4), Sharma (14) and Kohli (9) returned to the dugout with a score of 48. But batting coach Vikram Rathor blamed the pitches for his team’s dismal performance in the two matches.
“It is not easy to bat first on these surfaces. Any team which is batting first is struggling. We failed to hit big shots, but it is more than the surface,” Rathore told reporters.
“But being a world champion, you have to find a way to win against all odds, and we have failed to do that.”
Afghanistan spin threat
Afghanistan are certainly equipped with the best spin attack in the tournament, with Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman sharing 13 wickets between them. Rashid, the fastest to 100 wickets in 53 T20 Internationals, single-handedly tested Pakistan with his leg-spin, before Asif Ali’s batting knocked out the Afghans. Mujeeb, a mystery spinner who has almost all the variations, returned his T20 best figures of 5-20 in his team’s 130-run defeat to Scotland.
India have historically been a good player of spin, although Kohli and Sharma lost their wickets to New Zealand leg-spinner Ish Sodhi.
“The challenge will be for their spinners. But if we play to our potential, I think we should be fine,” Rathore said.
Dream or despair?
India’s exit from the World Cup is always a blow to fans, sponsors and broadcasters because of the kind of TV watching cricket legends get to see during the tournament. Kohli’s team is already facing abuse for losing two out of two, with the country’s cricket board accusing its players of having finished with the IPL just two days before the start of the World Cup.
For Afghanistan, it will be a matter of dreams if they beat India at the world stage which will add to their astonishing rise to compete with cricket’s elite from a handful of refugee players coming out of the war-torn nation.
But while talk on Afghanistan’s cricket often moves away from the political situation following the Taliban takeover, captain Mohammad Nabi has narrowed the conversation down to a focus on cricket and the World Cup.
“Let’s focus on cricket. We have come here to play the World Cup with a lot of good preparation and a lot of confidence,” Nabi said.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Topics mentioned in this article