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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Asia Cup: India aim to test middle-order against Afghanistan

Asia Cup: India aim to test middle-order against Afghanistan

September 24, 2018 14:32 IST

The only problem for India in the Asia Cup so far has been lack of batting time for the likes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

IMAGE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni has only faced 40 balls so far in the Asia Cup. Photograph: BCCI

The Indian cricket team will hope that its untested middle-order gets some game time ahead of the final when it takes on an ever-improving Afghanistan in the Super Four encounter of the Asia Cup in Dubai on Tuesday.

 

India have been on a roll after an unimpressive start against Hong Kong, with couple of one-sided victories over arch-rivals Pakistan and an equally facile one against Bangladesh.

With a spot in Friday's final sealed following their Sunday's win against Pakistan, captain Rohit Sharma may want some of his untested middle-order batsmen to get quality time in the middle against someone of Rashid Khan's calibre.

Shikhar Dhawan (327) and Rohit (269) have done the bulk of the scoring in the four matches so far with very little contribution being required from the other batsmen in the line-up.

The next highest scorer is Ambati Rayudu (116 runs) who comes in at No. 3.

The problem has been lack of batting time for the likes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik so far.

Sample this: Rohit and Shikhar have so far faced 284 and 321 deliveries respectively. The next best Rayudu has played 162 balls.

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan hit centuries to guide India to a nine-wicket win against Pakistan on Sunday. Photograph: BCCI

However, Karthik (78 balls), Dhoni (40 balls) and Kedar (27 balls) can be found wanting if there is a top-order collapse on the big day like the final.

Rohit had given Dhoni an opportunity to come in at No. 4 against Bangladesh and the former captain scored 33 but it was a pressure-free situation.

Dhoni's achilles heel of late has been to keep the scoreboard ticking in pressure situations in the middle overs.

If the likes of Rashid and Mujeeb ur Rahman can put pressure, it will be a good warm-up for the middle-order batsmen before the final.

The Indian captain might fancy batting first in case he wins the toss, which in turn will give his team a chance to bat 50 overs instead of chasing another modest total.

The Indian bowlers have been splendid on the slow Dubai International Stadium track with all the bowlers enjoying an economy rate of less than five runs per over.

IMAGE: India's players celebrate a wicket against Pakistan. Photograph: BCCI

The spinners have been on a roll with Yuzvendra Chahal (5 wickets at 4.61 runs per over) and Kuldeep Yadav (5 wickets in 4.01 runs per over) have been tight as usual while Jasprit Bumrah (7 wickets with 3.37 runs per over) has been exceptional at the death with his yorkers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (6 wickets at 4.08 per over), in his comeback tournament, has also been consistent.

There is a possibility that India might rest both Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah before the summit clash to help them recharge their batteries.

In such a scenario, two among Deepak Chahar, Siddharth Kaul and Khaleel Ahmed will take their spots in the playing eleven for the game.

For Afghanistan, a win against the fancied Indian side will be a great end to the tournament where they have been competitive throughout, only losing out due to lack of experience.

Having packed off Sri Lanka in the group league stage and crushed Bangladesh, Afghanistan were done in by inexperience during the fag end of the Super Four matches against Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Against Pakistan, their bowlers couldn't hold nerve in the final over while their batsmen choked in the final over against Mustafizur Rahman.

Squads:

India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (w/k), Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Siddharth Kaul, Manish Pandey.

Afghanistan: Asghar Afghan (captain), Mohammad Shahzad (w/k), Ihsanulluah Jamat, Javed Ahmadi, Rahmat Shah, Hasmat Shahidi, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Najibullah Zadran, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Aftab Alam, Samiullah Shenwari, Munir Ahmed, Sayed Ahmed Sherzad, Ashraf, Momand Wafadar.

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