India is striving for a smooth and flawless performance against Afghanistan in the upcoming ODI World Cup match. In their first tournament game, they faced intense pressure moments and are now aiming for perfection as they take on the spirited Afghan team. Skipper Rohit Sharma has emphasized that India’s primary challenge during the league stage will be adapting quickly to varying conditions at nine different venues.
The Feroz Shah Kotla ground is expected to offer a batting-friendly pitch, quite different from the slow and spinning track at Chepauk. Shubman Gill’s absence due to dengue will provide Ishan Kishan another opportunity to open alongside Rohit. Both Kishan and Shreyas Iyer have learned from their questionable shot selection against Australia and will be more cautious in the Afghanistan match. Kishan’s performance in this game will be crucial, especially if Gill remains unavailable for the Pakistan game three days later.
Facing Afghanistan’s bowling attack is expected to be less challenging than dealing with bowlers like Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc. The smaller dimensions of the ground will favor strokeplay, especially since the main square was relaid before the World Cup, altering the nature of the pitch.
The match will also be a homecoming for Virat Kohli, who will be expected to shine while batting in front of a pavilion named after him. KL Rahul, despite facing criticism, has been a standout performer for India’s batting lineup.
In the bowling department, India might consider making changes based on the conditions. If they opt not to go with three spinners, R Ashwin could replace Mohammad Shami, who performed decently in Chennai. This might be the only change in the playing eleven.
On the other hand, Afghanistan, coming off a heavy loss against Bangladesh, is eager to turn things around in Delhi. The support from the Afghan community in Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar is expected to boost their morale.
Afghanistan’s strength lies in their spin-dominated bowling attack, but their batsmen need to step up for them to make an impact in this World Cup. Rahmanullah Gurbaz is the only one in good form among the top-order batsmen. A disappointing total of 156 against Bangladesh highlighted the need for an immediate improvement in their batting performance.
Spinners Mujeeb Zadran and Rashid Khan are key components of Afghanistan’s bowling lineup. While Rashid can be a challenging proposition in T20s, batsmen have more time to handle him without undue risk in ODIs. This was evident in a game in Dharamsala where Bangladesh managed to score 48 runs from Rashid’s nine overs without losing a wicket.
Here are the squads for both teams:
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Suryakumar Yadav, Shubman Gill, Shardul Thakur.
Afghanistan squad: Hashmatullah Shahidi (captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Abdul Rahman, Naveen ul Haq.
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