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Match Preview – India vs Afghanistan, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023/24, 9th Match


Match Preview – India vs Afghanistan, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023/24, 9th Match


In his first press conference at this World Cup, Hashmatullah Shahidi spoke glowingly about the ability within his Afghanistan team. Even outside of it, the talent at their disposal is incredible. There’s a 23-year-old in Kunar who, but for the great Bill Ponsford, would hold the title of the fastest cricketer to 1000 first-class runs. The thing is, though, those kinds of records can sometimes speak to the lack of quality opposition. In a nutshell, that’s been Afghanistan’s problem in the longer formats.
As coveted as their stars are on the T20 circuit, the chances they have to level up their one-day game are few and far between. Afghanistan have played a mere 29 matches between the last World Cup and this one. Even going as far back as the first ODI they ever played, their tally only comes to 153. There are individual players in the Indian team that they’ll face on Wednesday who have played almost twice as many matches.

Experience is how batters learn when to go hard and when not to, when to just reduce risk, absorb the pressure and just trust that you can make up for lost ground. Experience is also how bowlers know it is important to keep hitting the same spot on the pitch over and over and over again. Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja exemplified this against Australia. No one in the Afghanistan team was able to do anything close in their match against a close rival.

ODIs demand that you hold your nerve and your discipline for far longer than T20s do. The best place to learn that is bilateral cricket. But Afghanistan don’t really have that. What they do have – what they’ve managed since 2012 – are consistent World Cup appearances. It’s become the only meaningful way to test themselves. India are the ideal Afghanistan are striving towards and tomorrow they’ll see how far they’ve come and how far they may yet go.

India WLWWW (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
Afghanistan LLLLL

In the spotlight – Rohit Sharma and Rahmanullah Gurbaz

Any team in the world would love to have Rohit Sharma at the top of their batting order. But he himself doesn’t seem to be all that satisfied with where he’s at. He’s got it in his head that he can be more. For the past two years in ODIs, he’s been hitting ’em at better than a run-a-ball: 114 from eight innings in 2022 with an average of 41 and 109 from 16 innings in 2023 with an average of 47. The extra aggression he’s been showing has maybe had an impact in his centuries column – he only has two from the last three years – but it does seem to have other benefits. The only team that’s been able to score quicker than India (95.65) between the last World Cup and this one is England (98.19).
Rahmanullah Gurbaz will be relishing the conditions that this game will be played in. Delhi has offered freedom to hit through the line of the ball and there aren’t many that do that better than him. Right at the top of Afghanistan’s order is an agenda-setting batter to whom the entire field is available for plunder. It wasn’t that long ago that he was thumping his own team-mates Rashid and Noor Ahmad around in the IPL, scoring 81 off just 39 balls.

Team news: Thakur for Ashwin?

Both Rohit and his coach Rahul Dravid have been rather vocal about how important it will be for the squad to adapt to various conditions as they progress through this World Cup. Chennai was spin-friendly so they picked a bowling attack to suit that. Delhi won’t be, so it’s quite likely they’ll ask R Ashwin to step aside for Shardul Thakur. Shubman Gill is still recovering from dengue and has not travelled with the team.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Ishan Kishan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer/Suryakumar Yadav, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Mohammed Siraj

Afghanistan put out the best team they had in Dharamsala and their captain said they were beaten because they had a bad day. It’s possible Shahidi might back the same XI to do better against India.

Afghanistan (probable): 1 Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), 2 Ibrahim Zadran, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi (capt), 5 Mohammad Nabi, 6 Najibullah Zadran, 7 Azmatullah Omarzai, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Naveen-ul-Haq, 10 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 11 Fazalhaq Farooqi

Pitch and conditions

The Feroz Shah Kotla was the scene where World Cup records tumbled with South Africa and Sri Lanka aggregating the highest match total and Aiden Markram amassing the fastest century.

“As a team we are prepared to do that. It is something we have been talking about in our group – whoever suits the conditions needs to come and do the job for us.”
India captain Rohit Sharma says he is prepared to play horses for courses

“We have a good spin-bowling attack, but only one department can’t win you games. You have to score runs for that, to win the game.”
The Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi wants a lot more from himself and the rest of his batting order


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