India and Afghanistan will lock horns against each other in the fifth match of the Super 4 phase in the ongoing Asia Cup on Thursday, September 8.
The match is a dead rubber as both India and Afghanistan have been officially knocked out of the tournament, but there is still plenty at stake as the two teams will battle it out for their pride in this contest.
Can wounded India come up with a strong show?
Nobody expected to see the Indian team crashing out of the Asia Cup so early. After all, this is a tournament they have bossed for so many years. They started on a bright note as well, winning both of their group stage encounters, including a match against Pakistan.
But things turned upside down as soon as they entered the Super 4 phase. They lost to Pakistan first and then failed to defend a total of 175 against Sri Lanka as well. Both matches went down to the wire, though, and could have either way. But India were on the backfoot from the beginning as they lost the toss in both games. The toss is a crucial factor in Dubai and India experienced the consequences first hand. They are now out of the tournament and can’t do anything about it either. But India will look to bow out on a high and give the fans something to cheer for.
Can Afghanistan achieve what they missed out on against Pakistan?
Like India, Afghanistan also qualified for the Super 4 as the top team from their group having won both matches. But things didn’t quite go according to plans for them as they lost to Sri Lanka and Pakistan to get knocked out of the tournament.
In fact, Afghanistan came very close to winning the match against Pakistan. But tail-ender Naseem Shah did the unthinkable and hit two sixes in the final over to take the match away from the Afghans. They did almost everything right in the match, though, until the final over. And that’s what they would look to repeat and complete against India. Afghanistan would want to try their heart out to win one last time in this tournament. If they can do so, they can give immense joy to their fans.
The Indian team has won twice and lost as many times in this tournament so far. In fact, both of their defeats have come in the last two games. But they are a quality side and will be looking to bounce back with a win in this match.
Afghanistan have also won two matches and lost an equal number of games in this Asia Cup. Back-to-back defeats in the last two games must have really affected their morale and confidence, but they will look to pull themselves up for one last show in this competition.
Possible Playing XIs
KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma (c), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wk), Deepak Hooda, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh
Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi (c), Karim Janat, Rashid Khan, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fareed Ahmad Malik, Fazalhaq Farooqi
Players to Watch
It’s hard to look at anyone else in the Indian playing XI when there is a player of Hardik Pandya’s calibre. The all-rounder is India’ most vital asset in this format as he adds depth to their batting unit and also has the ability to bowl four quality overs of pace.
Although Pandya hasn’t been able to do much since his match-winning contributions of 33*(17) and 3/25 in the group stage encounter against Pakistan, he will look to deliver here as India play one last time in this edition of the Asia Cup.
The left-arm pacer has bowled some sensational new ball spells and is Afghanistan’s second highest wicket-taker in this tournament as well. Farooqi has claimed six wickets in four matches so far, at an excellent average of 16.43.
Indian batters are traditionally known for struggling against left-arm pace and that’s why Farooqi stands a chance of bowling another good spell in this match.
Afghanistan showed in the previous match against Pakistan that they are capable of competing against top teams. They took the match right down to the last over, but they couldn’t hold their nerves at the last moment due to lack of enough big game experience. This will also be a crucial factor against India, who are a far superior side. Fatigue could also wear the Afghan team down as they will be playing this game within less than 24 hours of their match against Pakistan. So India will start as the firm favourites to win this encounter.