Afghanistan v India, World T20 2012, Group A, Colombo September 18, 2012

Afghan journeymen aim to stall India's journey

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Match facts

September 19, 2012
Start time 1930 (1400 GMT)

Big picture

If one of Twenty20's main purposes is to globalise the game, Afghanistan are its success story. Their country has been in the news for unfortunate reasons, but its teams' qualification for back-to-back World Twenty20s and the Under-19 World Cup is a welcome story. By all accounts, the following back home matches the frenzy cricket brings to the rest of cricketing Asia.

For the second time in their two appearances in the T20 global event, Afghanistan have drawn neighbours India at the start of the tournament. They will dearly love to be the banana skin, and they know this format was founded on banana skins. They will want to put pressure on India's bowling, which can be brittle under fire.

For India this match is expected to provide some much-needed relief after their bowlers have faltered in two of their last three Twenty20s. They will do well, though, to not take their opponents lightly because this is an event where you need just three bad hours to book a return ticket.

Form guide (last 5 completed matches, most recent first)

Afghanistan LWWLL
India LWLWL

Watch out for

Mohammad Shahzad is a wicketkeeper, is known as MS in the Afghanistan dressing room, and like the other MS he aims to unleash the helicopter shot come this World Twenty20. "I am Dhoni's biggest fan, and I love the way he bats," Shahzad said. "I try and copy the shots that he plays and have practiced the helicopter shot at the nets. I was missing everything, it's a very difficult shot to play. But I kept persisting till the time I mastered the shot. Inshallah, you will see me hitting the helicopter shot in the match against India. And hopefully Dhoni will like it too."

Yuvraj Singh was a calculated risk when picked for World Twenty20, the underlying idea being his fitness would be tested before the tournament began. However, rain and his late entry in the batting order has meant he has faced only 43 balls going into the first match. His fitness and strength hasn't really been tested, and India are entering a bit of an unknown with him. They will hope that they have got back the Yuvraj of the old.

Team news

During the warm-up games, India tried playing five specialist bowlers and used Irfan Pathan and R Ashwin at Nos 7 and 8, but don't expect MS Dhoni to take that adventurous route. He never does, no matter how weak the bowling might be. Dhoni said India will go in with four bowlers for the opening game.

India (possible): 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 Rohit Sharma, 7 MS Dhoni (capt. &wk), 8 R Ashwin, 9 Irfan Pathan, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 L Balaji/Ashok Dinda.

Seamer and Afghanistan's strike bowler Hamid Hassan has been ruled out of their opening game due to injury. He missed their warm-up games as well.

Afghanistan (possible): 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Javed Ahmadi, 3 Karim Sadiq, 4 Nawroz Mangal (capt.), 5 Asghar Stanikzai, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Samiullah Shenwari, 8 Dawlat Zadran, 9 Shapoor Zadran, 10 Gulbodin Naib, 11 Izatullah Dawlatzai

Pitch and conditions

The warm-up game between Indian and Pakistan, although played on a corner strip of R Premadasa square, was low, slow and flat, a U-turn on all the talk of changing nature of pitches in Sri Lanka. The groundstaff will hope for a little more even surface. They will also want something miraculous to happen to the patchy outfield that resulted in many a bad bounce and fumble in the warm-up game.

Stats and trivia

  • Mohammad Shahzad, with 312 runs in 11 innings, is the highest run-getter for Afghanistan in Twenty20 internationals.

  • Gautam Gambhir, with 444 runs, is the fourth-highest run-getter in all World Twenty20s. In doing so, he has scored four fifty-plus scores, behind only Mahela Jayawardene who has done so on five occasions.

    Quotes

    "It looks very unlikely, when you see the top seven batsmen we have to see which batsmen suits which position the best. Virat can bat at No 3 and then Yuvraj, Raina and Rohit. These are the people who need to get in. Maybe I will take over the slog opportunity and look to play big shots from the first ball. That can be the most likely scenario but it may change later."
    MS Dhoni rules out a promotion for himself in the batting order

    Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • zn264 on September 19, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    You're only as good as your last series INDIA, and I'm pretty sure NEW ZEALAND beat you...so I'd say you will be lucky to get out of this group. I'm putting my money on the Aussies or the Sri Lankan's to take the title...but would love to see NZ cause a few upsets like the always do!

  • dummy4fb on September 19, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    Best wishes to the Afghanistan team! From Bangladesh :D

  • Bangla.tiger on September 19, 2012, 13:49 GMT

    ALL THE BEST AFGANISTAN THOUGH INDIA IS VERY VERY TOUGH FOR AFGANISTAN. GOOD LUCK

  • reality_check27 on September 19, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    india was th no 1 test side has won the t20 world cup is the 50 overs world champion what has srilanka really done that they are coming out here and saying india is a bad team they lost the one day series at home against india oh is it becuase they beat zimbabwe oh thats right yes u have done what no other team in world ricket would have been able to do

  • dummy4fb on September 19, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    india must improve feildind rather batting n bowling

  • reality_check27 on September 19, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    india was th no 1 test side has won the t20 world cup is the 50 overs world champion what has srilanka really done that they are coming out here and saying india is a bad team they lost the one day series at home against india oh is it becuase they beat zimbabwe oh thats right yes u have done what no other team in world ricket would have been able to do

  • elikana on September 19, 2012, 13:16 GMT

    Wish Afgan the best. Do they have a chance against India. I don,t think so. The first round should have had more games or teams play each other twice to improve the game of cricket.

  • cricfan97360008 on September 19, 2012, 13:15 GMT

    i am really hope for afghan team they can beat india if pathans click today :)

  • MENDIS_Forever on September 19, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    @ tharish52 :on (September 19 2012, 07:28 AM GMT) :"I am indian but i really want afganistan should win today's match". I am confused.How can someone support the opponent? It's IND vs AFG.Your support should go to your own Indian team.

  • dummy4fb on September 19, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    @ Waheed Shirzay, i still have no doubt.....

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