The match at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru holds significant weight. India already have a firm grip on the series, winning the first two matches. The stage is set for a thrilling encounter on a surface that’s historically been conducive to high-scoring cricket.
The Indian team, spearheaded by some of the game’s most influential players, finds itself in a position of strength. Playing on home turf adds confidence to their gameplay.
The emergence of Shivam Dube and Tilak Varma as leading players in this format has bolstered the squad. Their recent performances have been impressive, and they are expected to continue their form into this crucial match.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, faces an uphill battle. Their focus now shifts to avoiding a whitewash against a team they consider one of their fiercest rivals. The absence of Rashid Khan, their regular skipper, due to injury has been a significant setback. His absence has left a noticeable void in the team’s performance.
However, players like Ibrahim Zadran and Gulbadin Naib will play pivotal roles. The team relies on its bowlers, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, and Fazalhaq Farooqi, to make early inroads into the Indian batting lineup.
Probable Playing XIs
India: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rohit Sharma (c), Virat Kohli, Shivam Dube, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Mukesh Kumar, Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh.
Afghanistan: Ibrahim Zadran (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Gulbadin Naib, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Janat, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq, Noor Ahmad.
Key Players to Watch
Shivam Dube: India’s Shivam Dube has carved a niche for himself as a powerful finisher. His ability to strike the ball cleanly and rotate the strike has been crucial in India’s campaign so far. He has scored fifties in both series matches so far and picked up a couple of wickets. His batting performance in Bengaluru will be essential to India’s success.
Gulbadin Naib: For Afghanistan, much will depend on Gulbadin Naib. Promoted up the order, Naib has repaid the faith placed in him by the selectors. The all-rounder scored an attacking fifty in the last game. He took the attack on to the Indian spinners in the middle overs. His role will be even more critical in countering the Indian bowlers, setting a competitive target, or chasing one in Bengaluru.
India enters the match as favorites, bolstered by their recent performances and the return of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. Kohli, familiar with the Bengaluru pitch due to his IPL commitments with RCB, is expected to play a significant role. The combination of experience and form makes India a formidable opponent.
However, T20 cricket is known for its unpredictability. Afghanistan, as an underdog, cannot be discounted. Their desire to avoid a whitewash might fuel an unexpected performance. It will be interesting to see how they tackle the pressure and whether they can challenge the Indian juggernaut.