Wednesday, July 24, 2024

T20 World Cup 2024, AFG vs IND 43rd Match, Super Eights, Group 1 Match Preview

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Match details

Afghanistan vs India
Bridgetown, 10.30am local, 8.00pm IST, 2.30pm GMT

Big picture: India vs Rashid Khan

This January, these two teams produced one of the greatest T20Is ever – one that needed two Super Overs to produce a result – and that was when they were playing less-than-full-strength teams after the series had been decided. The stakes are a lot higher now. So perhaps Afghanistan and India’s meeting in the Super Eight of the T20 World Cup 2024 will be a little less spectacle and a little more surgical.

Afghanistan possess a bowling attack capable of asking questions every over, which works out well because they have to find a way past the experience of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli early to level the playing field. With those two out of the picture, anything can happen. That’ll be Fazalhaq Farooqi‘s job. His left-arm angle coupled with the ability to swing the new ball are threats to batters of even the highest quality.

If that happens – and it’s a big if – India will come under scoreboard pressure, which is best friends with Rashid Khan. The Afghanistan captain has walked into plenty of situations where the opposition has just started to wobble, and he finishes them off.

It takes a genius to beat a genius, and India are lucky to have Suryakumar Yadav, who has dominated Rashid in T20s, scoring 86 runs in 58 balls at a strike rate of 148. Shivam Dube goes at a higher strike rate (155) over a smaller sample size (18 balls), and that brings into picture the other advantage that India have: left-hand batters. Rashid has not done as well against them in T20s lately. He kept them down to a strike rate of 109 in 2022 and 2023. This year, it’s up at 141.

Afghanistan’s bowling is their best strength, but India have them covered. So that means one of Afghanistan’s batters will have to have a field day.

Form guide

Afghanistan LWWWW (Last five completed matches, most recent first)
India: WWWWW

In the spotlight: Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Axar Patel

Scoring quickly against high-quality bowling requires both skill and bravery, and Rahmanullah Gurbaz has both those qualities in abundance. Against New Zealand earlier in this World Cup, he scored 80 off 56 balls in a match where only two of his team-mates reached double digits and the opposition altogether was bowled out for 75. Gurbaz hits pace at a strike rate of 150 and spin at 145 in T20 cricket, and that may very well be a function of how he doesn’t mind taking risks. Batters like that are hard to stop when it’s their day.

So much of the focus in this game will be on mystery spin. But underneath all that, happily working under the radar, giving both tangible and intangible results is the left-arm orthodox spin-bowling allrounder Axar Patel. His bowling is all about containment, but he does that by attacking the stumps, while his batting gives India the confidence to hit out from ball one. Axar should also enjoy the fact that Afghanistan should have only two left-hand batters in their top eight.

Team news

India don’t have any need to tinker with their XI. And despite the loss to West Indies, Afghanistan might not either.

Afghanistan (probable): 1 Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), 2 Ibrahim Zadran, 3 Gulbadin Naib, 4 Azmatullah Omarzai, 5 Mohammad Nabi, 6 Najibullah Zadran, 7 Karim Janat, 8 Rashid Khan (capt), 9 Noor Ahmad, 10 Naveen-ul-Haq, 11 Fazalhaq Farooqi

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Virat Kohli, 3 Rishabh Pant (wk), 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Axar Patel, 9 Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Arshdeep Singh

Pitch and conditions

Bridgetown has offered decent batting conditions, having hosted one of the three 200-plus scores seen in this tournament. The weather shouldn’t be a problem.

Stats and trivia

  • Afghanistan have played India in 13 games across formats, but are yet to win one.

  • Gurbaz (167) and Farooqi (12) are currently the highest scorer and the highest wicket-taker, respectively, in the T20 World Cup 2024.
  • India have not faced Rashid a lot in T20Is. But in two games, they have scored 69 runs in eight overs without losing a single wicket.
  • Quotes

    “I always thought that during the most difficult phase of T20 – like between [overs] seven to 14, [or] seven to 16 – I had thought about that a lot before making my debut for India. If I do well here, [and] if I bat with a good strike rate, then I can be a game changer on that day. And when I kept doing it repeatedly, I felt that this is my game plan going forward.”
    India batter Suryakumar Yadav

    Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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