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Afghanistan out to pip finalists India on their way out

25 Sep 2018 CricBuzz

It's been a rough few days for Afghanistan. Topping Group B with a Net Run Rate of +2.270 has eventually amounted to zilch as they've come second in two successive thrillers - against Pakistan and Bangladesh - to be the first team to bow out from the Super Four stage. The initial performances were laced with all-around effort and brought along serious promise of breaking away from their underdogs' image and being true contenders for glory.

But the lack of experience in crunch situations, perhaps, did them in twice - first while defending 39 runs off the last four overs against Pakistan, which was eventually down to 10 off six balls and chased with three to spare; and then faltered while needing to score eight off the last six balls against Bangladesh.

But this Afghanistan side can still head home with a lot to cherish. Of the four teams that reached the Super Fours, Afghanistan were the only ones with two convincing victories, as India huffed and puffed against Hong Kong while Pakistan and Bangladesh had a deflating defeat each. They've also had some of the best individual performances in the tournament, with Hashmatullah Shahidi scoring 263 runs in four games - a tally only third-best to Rohit Sharma's (269) and Shikhar Dhawan's (327) returns. Rashid Khan has topped the bowlers' list with eight wickets in four games and has Mujeeb Ur Rahman for company at second spot (as of now).

India, meanwhile, have displayed the gulf in quality and a translation of that quality on the field, between them and the rest of the title suitors. Hong Kong troubled them, but since then they've been all sorts of clinical - swatting aside Bangladesh and then Pakistan for the second time - to such an extent that Pakistan's coach Mickey Arthur felt the nine-wicket loss was up there as one of the worst performances under his regime.

When: September 25, 2018, 3:30 PM Local time, 5:00 PM IST

Where: Dubai International Cricket Stadium

What to expect: With nothing to play for, the stands on Tuesday - a working day - are likely to be empty.

Team News:


Having already made it to the final, India have a chance to rest a few regulars ahead of the final on Friday. Cricketers often oversell the concept of winning momentum, but there should be a consideration to give a couple of their starters a rest. Bench players like KL Rahul and Manish Pandey could get in for the dead-rubber, while even Jasprit Bumrah can be afforded a day off.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul/Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey/Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah/Khaleel Ahmed


Across four games, the only changes Afghanistan have made have been in one position. Najibullah Zadran and Samiullah Shenwari have played alternate games in the tournament, replacing each other in the process. Afghanistan could be tempted to give one or some of their other four reserves a game, but the endeavour to finish strongly might also come in the way of any such judgement.

Probable XI: Mohammad Shahzad, Ihsanullah Janat, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari/ Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Gulbadin Naib, Aftab Alam, Mujeeb Ur Rahman


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