Afghanistan v India, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 4, 2014

Afghanistan test for India in dead rubber

The Preview by Karthik Krishnaswamy

Agarkar: India must play Pandey and Pujara

Match facts

March 5, 2014
Start time 14.00 local (0800 GMT)

Big Picture

Thanks to that man Shahid Afridi, yet again, but thanks mostly to their own inadequacies, India are out of the Asia Cup. The fact that they were banking on Bangladesh to pull off upsets in successive matches just to keep them alive showed India probably didn't merit a place in the final anyway.

If Bangladesh had beaten Pakistan, India would have still needed to keep up their end of the equation. They would have had to beat Afghanistan and win with a bonus point. India will still want that bonus point, even though they have nothing tangible left to play for. Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka managed it, and India will want to match those two sides on that count.

At the pre-match press conference, Ambati Rayudu said India had run both Pakistan and Sri Lanka very close, and had been unfortunate to lose both games "by a metre". What's done is done, though, and both those defeats could have been avoided had India played sharper cricket and grabbed their chances. In both matches, they lost wickets at inopportune moments during the middle overs.

They won't want to repeat those mistakes in their last league match. Afghanistan bowl with skill and discipline, and it will be important India's batsmen don't give them easy wickets. The middle order will particularly need to keep this in mind; a bit of patience at the beginning of their innings could be rewarded later on, since Afghanistan's death bowling, which has twice let them down in this tournament, looks a little vulnerable.

It seems unlikely India will make changes to their middle order. Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu haven't completely convinced, but they have earned their right to an extended spell in the side with one important half-century each. Dinesh Karthik, meanwhile, is the only specialist wicketkeeper in India's squad. By this calculation, if India are to leave someone out to bring Cheteshwar Pujara in, it might mean they rest one of their openers.

In both their defeats so far, Afghanistan's batsmen looked at relative ease against the seam bowlers and all at sea against spin. With this in mind, India will likely stick with the three-spinner combination that did so well against Pakistan.

Afghanistan, meanwhile, will want to finish the tournament strongly, to show they are capable of putting pressure on big sides consistently. They will want to improve on their death bowling; Hamid Hassan's possible return in place of Dawlat Zadran could help them in this regard. They will definitely want to bat out 50 overs; they will need to cut out the expansive shots, such as the silly slog that spelled the end of Mohammad Shahzad against Sri Lanka. Most importantly, they will want to continue doing the things they have already done well.

Form guide

Afghanistan LWLWW (completed matches, most recent first)

Watch out for

Amit Mishra bowled beautifully against Pakistan, prompting his captain, Virat Kohli, to enthuse about his ability to turn the ball on any surface. Afghanistan have been quite susceptible to spin in this tournament, and a good spell from Mishra could well fetch him a big haul.

Mohammad Shahzad has played some of the most memorable strokes of the tournament, including a first-ball flick off Umar Gul and a flat six over cover off Suranga Lakmal. But he's only scored 18 runs in three innings so far, copping a bad decision against Pakistan and getting out to an atrocious stroke against Sri Lanka. If he can rein in his aggression against India, Shahzad could well end the tournament with a decent score.

Team news

India are likely to retain the same XI they picked against Pakistan.

India (likely): 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Ambati Rayudu, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Amit Mishra, 11 Mohammed Shami.

Fitness permitting, Hamid Hassan could return to Afghanistan's pace attack in place of Dawlat Zadran. After the Sri Lanka game, coach Kabir Khan hinted they might give Rahmat Shah a go against India. With fellow legspinner Samiullah Shenwari also an important member of the batting lineup, it's possible Rahmat will replace left-arm spinner Hamza Hotak.

Afghanistan (likely): 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Noor Ali Zadran, 3 Asghar Stanikzai, 4 Nawroz Mangal, 5 Mohammad Nabi (capt), 6 Najibullah Zadran, 7 Samiullah Shenwari, 8 Mirwais Ashraf, 9 Hamza Hotak/Rahmat Shah, 10 Dawlat Zadran/Hamid Hassan, 11 Shapoor Zadran.

Stats and trivia

  • Mohammed Shami needs two wickets to reach 50 in ODIs
  • India and Afghanistan haven't met in an ODI, but they've faced each other twice in Twenty20 cricket. India won by 23 runs when the two sides last met during the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka.*


    "They are a very good bowling side as we have seen in the competition. We need to keep our head down and make sure we get runs."
    Ambati Rayudu on the threat Afghanistan pose

    *1800 GMT, March 4: The stats and trivia had incorrectly stated that India and Afghanistan had played only once in T20s. This has been corrected.

    Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

  • Comments have now been closed for this article

    • Nasir on March 5, 2014, 17:28 GMT

      Dont understand these unlimited arguments about the best team .... Just imagine World Champions had to play a match deciding 3rd position in Asia against Afghanistan ..... And most notice able thing India came in with a BEST SIDE ... Fear to lose ?????

    • Android on March 5, 2014, 12:08 GMT

      @sergio11. friend we accept our defeat against Zimbabwe but didn't lost the test series it was 1-1.We didn't played champions trophy well.We also lost odi series against southafrica but then we came back very strongly we won the odi series against southafrica in southafrica 2-1,we won the odi series against srilanka now we play well in asia cup and will play final vs srilanka.Our team is improving day by day but the way india had played against southafrica and newzealand last series it was disappointed so accept your defeats.I write all these comments because many indian fans are saying that india is far better side than pakistan,pakistan and srilanka are minnows that is totally rubbish knowing the past performances of both the teams.If india will do well in future we will appreciate it but till now pakistan is better side than india.Whatever we do against other teams we always done well against india and we also won last series against india by 2-1.

    • Athul on March 5, 2014, 10:46 GMT

      @ Nabeel Ahmad ....after 2002 ZIM has never won a test match against top ranked test side...thanks to pak..they won..and ofcoz pak is not top is ur common sense my dear friend..???comparing the ZIM team of before 2002 and now...yeaa find excuses for ur lose against them....but non will be enough to show that pak has the worst batting line up after BAN right now..

    • Weird on March 5, 2014, 10:29 GMT

      A battle between minnows to determine who is the 3rd best cricket team in Asia...

    • Android on March 5, 2014, 9:59 GMT

      @sergio11...thats a great excuse by you that Zimbabwe had great players in that side.It means India hadn't great players at that time ok forget that see this 01: 28 May 2010 at Bulawayo Ind - 285/5 (50), Zim - 289/4 (48.2) India lost by 6 wickets 02: 3 June 2010 at Harare Ind - 194/9 (50), Zim - 197/3 (38.2) India lost by 7 wickets That was the same team which had played against pakistan last year and also India have also lost 2 Test matches to Zimbabwe. Both in Zimbabwe at Harare in 1998 and 2001.

    • Android on March 5, 2014, 9:44 GMT are talking about pakistan bowling.Its one's in a year when pakistan bowling concede runs but for indian bowling its one's in a year not to concede runs so take it easy world knows pakistan is the best bowling attack and also learn to respect the other nations thats why you are being thrashed all over the world because you dont respect others bangladesh has improved a lot in the past couple of years they have played well and that was the bangladesh side which had defeated you in the last asia cup.

    • Android on March 5, 2014, 9:12 GMT

      Indian fans are making excuses that we have a team of youngsters ms dhoni, yuvraj,gambhir and sehwag are not playing in our side thats why we loses against pakistan and srilanka i wanna remember them one thing because they forget very quickly that they lost against us in their home conditions by 2-1 in january 2013 series when all these players were playing so dont makes excuses accept defeat and also our shoaib malik,younis khan and muhammad irfan were not playing we also have a team of youngsters.

    • shahid on March 5, 2014, 8:18 GMT

      @ Sidh78..Totally agreed with u man. Looks like Indian have broken Sl heart by thrashing them everywhere.Both Pak and Sl are lucky to win their matches against IND because of our day dreamer Dinesh Karthik who is thinking of replacing world best finisher Dhoni. Just play him his last match and throw him out of national squad forever. He dont deserve to represent India. Indian Selectors should not be shock by this showing of Karthik as he has previously done it before. Worst current Wicketkeeper. Even Raydu n Bisla Can keep better than him.

    • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 8:06 GMT

      @Mr_ICC.... Bangladesh played well because Pakistani bowlers were too relax in their approach... also effectively Pakistan played with 10 plaers (abdul rehman virtually not there).... so 1 front line bowler was less...... this happens once in a blue moon.... but look at indian bowling... consistently failing again and again.... Lol!!!!! @ ur revenge :p

    • Dummy4 on March 5, 2014, 8:02 GMT

      As a Pakistani fan I can appreciate the young talents in both the teams. India is experimenting with new combinations so its understandable the result might not go in their favor for a while. But the youngsters would grow immensely from the experience.

      Good luck to both the teams and may Pakistan win the trophy.

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