World Cup: Unbeaten India face winless Afghanistan Saturday

Fresh after facing a humiliating defeat at the hands of tournament favourites England, Afghanistan will face another heavyweight in India in the World Cup match at Southampton tomorrow.

Before the start of the World Cup, Afghanistan was expected to give an upset or two but with five losses in five games so far, Afghanistan is covered with controversies both on and off the field and they have been reduced to a mere minnow in the tournament.

The match against India, too in all likelihood will be an one-sided affair in which India will not only look to extend their unbeaten run, but also improve their net run rate. Virat Kohli’s men so far have been at their resounding best, beating South Africa, Australia and Pakistan comprehensively.

Rohit Sharma is in prime form, smashing two centuries, and he will be trying for another one (or even a double); Virat Kohli, too, has hit two back-to-back, half-centuries.

K L Rahul performed well as an opener against Pakistan, and Hardik Pandya has been proving time and again with the bat whenever required. India might use their game against Afghanistan to give some time for Kedar Jadhav to bat since he has just faced eight balls ever since his return from the injury he suffered during the IPL.

However, with Shikar Dhawan being ruled out and Bhuvneshwar Kumar suffering an injury, India will be forced to make one change by including Mohammed Shami.

Vijay Shankar os also facing an injury scare and they might also be tempted to give the latest entrant Rishabh Pant, a chance in the middle order.

Afghanistan’s star bowler Rashid Khan so far has had a disastrous tournament and against England in the last game, he conceded 110 in nine overs. Afghanistan hopes that their star bowler finds his form to provide any challenge to the Indian batsmen.

One positive for Afghanistan, however, is that against England, they played their full quota of 50 overs and if they manage to replicate that performance against India, that will give a huge boost for them. For that to happen, the Afghan batsmen need to tackle the spin twins, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, but that will be too hot for the inexperienced line-up.

Aaditya Anand M