Deadline: June 22, 2019 at 3 PM IST
Venue: The Rose Bowl, Southampton
Pitch and conditions
India will go back to Southampton where Rohit Sharma played a resilient innings of 122* off 144 against a disciplined pace attack of South Africa and on a track that equally helped batsmen and bowlers. The pitch, however, is expected to favour the batsmen this time. Virat Kohli will elect to bat first hands down if they win the toss.
Weather in England has been merciful to the cricket fans this week, and is likely to be the same on Saturday, although dark clouds will loom over Southampton for the better part of the day.
Probable XI for India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (c), Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jaspirt Bumrah
Probable XI for Afghanistan: NA Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai/Najibullah Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan, Gulbadin Naib (c), Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman/Hameed Hassan
NOTE: Pick your fantasy cricket team wisely.
Afghanistan play for pride
Afghanistan are the only team to not open their account yet in the World Cup, having lost all their five matches. To their dismay, none of their matches has been washed out, that they would have gotten a point at least. They, now, have nothing to play for but pride. Playing against India won’t make matters easy for them, but they can always try. After all, they had managed to draw a match in the 2018 Asia Cup against India. Something similar should elate them.
Perfect time for India to up the net run rate
Afghanistan haven’t been the side we know. If anything, they aren’t enjoying their game. Win or lose, they always, always have a good time. In this World Cup, however, they have been uncharacteristic, that it seems they do not want to play the game anymore. India can feed on this. They are brimming with confidence, and if they execute all their plans, they have the opportunity not just to bag another win but to win it by a massive margin, for net run rate will matter as we approach the semi-finals.
Players to watch out for
Rohit Sharma has two hundreds and a fifty in 3 games and these innings came against teams that have superior bowling attacks. Rohit will now play against Afghanistan who, in their last match, conceded 398 runs. Rohit is the only player to score two double-hundreds. If Afghanistan let Rohit score a hundred, you know the outcome.
Virat Kohli has not got a hundred yet but he has scores of 77 and 82. Even if Afghanistan manage to get an early breakthrough, Kohli will take the crease. You get the gist.
Hazratullah Zazai was rested in the last match and is expected to be fit for this game. His last three scores read 30, 34, and 22, and by no means can he afford to give away his wicket cheaply and expose Afghanistan’s frail middle order in the powerplay. Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami will hunt them down with their swing and pace. Fortunately for Afghanistan, Hashmatullah Shahidi struck form, scoring a resolute 76.
Afghanistan’s strategy against England was to play 50 overs. If they win the toss, they will choose to bat first and pile up as many runs. For that matter, they have the likes of Rashid Khan and Gulbadin Naib to put India under pressure. If anything, that is the only way to stop the rampaging Indians: take wickets at regular intervals.