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Shirin Sadikot & Rajneesh Gupta in Mumbai 04 March 2014 - 12:24pm IST

Preview: Asia Cup – Afghanistan vs India

India aim to bow out with a win; Afghans look for further confidence boost


The ninth match of 2014 Asia Cup, between Afghanistan and India


Wednesday, March 5, 2014 (08:00 GMT| 14:00 Local | 13:30 IST)


Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur, Bangladesh

The Teams


For a team that is participating in the Asia Cup for the first time, Afghanistan have been nothing but impressive. Their win over Bangladesh was one of the highlights of this tournament and their subsequent entry in top 10 of the ODI Rankings is a testimony to the rapid strides they have made on the cricketing front in a very short period.

There is, of course, still a long way to go for the newest men in blue of cricket. While Afghanistan have impressed with the ball, their batting hasn’t quite stood on the same pedestal. While they have managed to restrict the opponents to 250 or thereabouts in all three games, only once have they managed to cross 200 themselves. They must use the game against India to improve upon that aspect of their cricket.


With Sri Lanka’s win over Afghanistan, all chances of India making the final have been dashed. All Virat Kohli’s young team can aim for now is to bow out of the tournament with a huge win, preferably with a bonus point.

India’s main problem in this tournament has been the lack of runs from their middle and lower middle-order batsmen. With no one to accelerate the run-flow in the final 10-15 overs, the slow scoring rate in the middle-overs has hurt chances of achieving a par target. In short, they have struggled to fill MS Dhoni’s shoes.

There are, however, a few redeeming factors for Virat’s team. After the mediocre performance against Sri Lanka, where the fielders failed to latch on to the catches and the bowlers strayed in lines, the Indians showed a remarkable improvement against Pakistan in those areas.

Despite the loss against the arch rivals, there are negligible chances of India making any changes in their playing XI.

Key Players


While the team’s overall batting performance in the tournament has been found wanting, Asghar Stanikzai has shown commendable consistency with knocks of 40, 90 and 27. The No. 3 batsman could be the catalyst to Afghanistan’s batting revival. If Stanikzai occupies the crease for the better part of the innings and the rest of the batsmen play around him, Afghanistan can hope to post a competitive score.


Virat Kohli may have not have made big scores in the last two matches. But he played a vital role in the field, marshalling his troops as a leader. He may have won only one match in this tournament, against Bangladesh, but his captaincy has been a revelation. He has been sharp with his bowling changes, proactive with the field placements and looked in command. Now the onus is on him to protect his young team-mates from the dejection of the early ouster from the tournament and inspire them to deliver that final flourish.


Team’s performance in ODIs










India after first 29 matches






This will be the first time these two sides will be meeting in ODIs. India have won both the Twenty20 internationals played against Afghanistan – in 2010 and 2012.

India have restricted opponents to a total of less than 240 only once in last 20 ODIs.

Afghanistan have the best win-percentage in ODIs among all non-Test playing nations.


Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi (captain),Asghar Stanikzai, Dawlat Zadran, Fazal Niazai, Hamid Hassan,Hamza Hotak, Karim Sadiq, Mirwais Ashraf,Mohammad Shahzad, Nawroz Mangal, Rahmat Shah, Samiullah Shenwari, Shapoor Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran.

India: Virat Kohli (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Amit Mishra, Mohammad Shami, Ishwar Pandey, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja.