Afghanistan v West Indies, World T20 2016, Group 1, Nagpur March 26, 2016

Afghanistan look to finish their campaign with a bang

The Preview by Sirish Raghavan
16

Match facts

Sunday, March 27, 2016
Start time 1500 local (0930 GMT)

Play 02:57
Afghanistan seek final hurrah

Big Picture

More than two weeks into the tournament, and Afghanistan are still out there, playing in front of a global audience. That, in itself, is a victory, though their clash against West Indies is a dead rubber.

Not merely content in having fun in the qualifiers, Afghanistan stormed into the Super 10s, and have made their presence felt. In each of their last three matches, Afghanistan have pushed their opponents, delivering a fright or two. And they have done so while showcasing a flamboyant brand of cricket that has caught the eye. As they enter their last high-profile match in the foreseeable future, they will look to go one step further and bag a major scalp. They will have to back up the flair with discipline, and sustain it over 40 overs if they are to bring West Indies down.

West Indies, having secured their place in the semi-finals with a tight win over South Africa on Friday, will want to head to the knockouts unbeaten. With several players firing, West Indies are increasingly fancied as title contenders. They, however, made heavy weather of a 123 chase in their last match, and will have to be wary of Afghanistan who tested Sri Lanka, South Africa, and England.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)

Afghanistan: LLLWW

West Indies: WWWWL

In the spotlight

If Afghanistan are to pull off an upset, captain Asghar Stanikzai may well have to play a key role, in more ways than one. Though Mohammad Shahzad has had the limelight in this tournament, Afghanistan's middle order needs to chip in. And Stanikzai's calm approach could provide some substance and stability. Stanikzai is also capable of playing the big shots, as he showed during his 62 against Sri Lanka. As a captain, he also faces the challenge of making the most of his spin resources.

Denesh Ramdin's struggles in this format have shown no signs of abating. He has the lowest T20I batting average - 16.12 - among wicketkeeper-batsmen who have played at least 20 innings. Against South Africa on Friday, he came in at no. 9. By the time he came on strike for his first ball, West Indies needed one run off three. He cut in the air straight to Hashim Amla - who dropped it - and West Indies prevailed. They will hope that Ramdin hits form to boost the team further.

Team news

Afghanistan are likely to stick to the same combination, though they need to make a choice between left-arm spinner Amir Hamza and an extra seamer.

Afghanistan: (probable) 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Noor Ali Zadran, 3 Asghar Stanikzai (capt), 4 Gulbadin Naib, 5 Samiullah Shenwari, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 Najibullah Zadran, 9 Shafiqullah, 10 Amir Hamza/Hamid Hassan/Dawlat Zadran 11 Shapoor Zadran

Given that this is a dead rubber, West Indies may ponder giving Jason Holder a go.

West Indies: (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Johnson Charles, 3 Andre Fletcher, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 6 Andre Russell, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Carlos Brathwaite/Jason Holder, 10 Samuel Badree, 11 Sulieman Benn

Pitch and conditions

The Nagpur surface has offered slow turn right through the World T20, and will probably continue to do so in its last match of the tournament. Mid-day temperatures have been touching the low 40s range, and the 3pm start will test the fitness of the players.

Stats and Trivia

  • West Indies are one of three Full Members that Afghanistan have never met in T20Is. Against the seven they have met, they have won five and lost nine (with all five wins coming against Zimbabwe)
  • West Indies have played only one other Associate team - Ireland - in T20Is. In their four matches against Ireland, they won two and lost one, with one no result

Quotes

"It has been a lucky ground for us because we have won our first round over here in Nagpur. So definitely after playing three matches and coming back it's like a home ground and easy to adjust to the wicket. The boundaries here are very different compared to other grounds. They are longer boundaries and in addition to that we have good spinners. So, on this wicket our spinners will really help us to finish on a good note."
Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai on coming back to the venue where the side won all its first-round matches

"They've played well in all the games. They've batted really well, [especially when] they were chasing a big score against South Africa, who we played yesterday. So they've been playing well and I know them from before, so I know that they're going to come to try and win. So we've got to just play properly."
West Indies coach Phil Simmons on Afghanistan

Sirish Raghavan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ramana1 on March 27, 2016, 9:08 GMT

    blue tigers , they ready to go. some fireworks, some classical shots, they really impressed, no doubt , at least it is one of the top 9 teams in the contest, Bright future , go a head

  • Hulusian on March 27, 2016, 7:38 GMT

    Afghanistan have not looked out of place at this tournament and will challenge the West Indies, just as they have done the others.

  • ubaidmasoody on March 27, 2016, 5:41 GMT

    Afghanistan cricket has bright future ahead. Their passion and dedication to cricket is unmatched. They are inspiring Afghani people towards cricket. Few years down the line a will see them regularly beating top teams. Hopefully ICC will do it's part.

  • drwalidsediqi on March 27, 2016, 1:45 GMT

    There is no need to change for Afghanistan but they must change the bating order: Noor, Shahzad, Najib, Nabi, Shinwari, Naib, Shafaq, Azghar, Rashid, Amza, Shapoor. Last 4 over must give to Shapoor and Nabi.

  • JoshFromJamRock on March 27, 2016, 1:03 GMT

    Afghanistan will give WI a great scare if they get Gayle early.. I just have a feeling that Rashid Khan will get his wicket (and a few more), but he'll be smacked for a few sixes first i feel... WI can't play spin and we all know this. Fletcher and Gayle seem to be the only guys who comfortable against it. Samuels and Ramdin are said to be good players of spin but in reality they are awful against it - Samuels gets stumped quite often, while Ramdin gets bowled quite often... If Afghanistan set 140 they'll win (granted Gayle is out early)... If WI set less than 160 i also feel that they'll lose.

  • Josiah M. Philip on March 27, 2016, 0:44 GMT

    lewis won the award for best fielder in the nagico s50 '14 and while he's not one of the best going around he is less likely to drop sitters like Charles is famous for in the past.

  • JoshFromJamRock on March 27, 2016, 0:40 GMT

    Gayle might be rested so Lewis may get a go. Charles and Ramdin deserve to be dropped but hey, if the selectors played them against SA, they'll definitely be played. Charles is what we call a "yam-licka" - he swing wildly and blindly hoping for the best. Ramdin's importance in this team is only rivaled by Sammy who is a non-playing captain.

  • delboy on March 26, 2016, 23:16 GMT

    Bench Ramdin..bring in Holder and give the gloves to Fletcher.

  • compensate on March 26, 2016, 20:43 GMT

    WI must keep their focus. Strengthen the team. Replace Charles with Fletcher as opener. Lewis should play. Ramdin , Charles and Holder should compete for no.9 spot. Fletcher clearly is the best choice to open with Gayle. He gets going quickly and will give Gayle the ease to get into stride and bat deep. Charles is confused about his role and puts pressure on Gayle,since the last World Cup . He hopes Gayle takes pressure from him so he can stick around with his vast limitations. He chokes the flow of blood of front. The management needs to clear and mature about this. Fletcher as opener and Lewis at 4 or 3 accordingly will further energize the team. Charles can bat at 9 with Ramdin out. Pick thoughtfully the best team. The World Cup is WI's. Best wishes. Bat Russel before Bravo and Brathwaite before Sammy.

  • Starvybz on March 26, 2016, 20:20 GMT

    Yeah sure here's a bright idea let's change a winning team. It is too late to make any changes and the selections thus far have been spot on. I may be able to flex with the Evin Lewis selection for Charles although he is a much better fielder than Lewis. Also anyone who has seen Jason Holder bowl in India knows it is not something worth recollecting upon. He is an exceptional test player but limited overs is not his thing. Given the fact most of these guys will retire soon, you will get your Evin Lewis, dropped catches whoops I mean Jason Holder etc. And most prevalent of all, group stage exits because this will probably be the last of such a formidable West Indian T20 team. So cherish it whilst it lasts because after this tournament we will be heading in the same direction as Sri Lanka. No Gayle, Samuels, Ramdin, Sammy, Bravo, Taylor, Benn and Badree.

  • No featured comments at the moment.