Southampton: With three wins in four matches (including a no result), Team India will be looking to come out with yet another commanding performance and continue their winning run in the ongoing World Cup when they take on Afghanistan at the Rose Bowl here on Saturday.
The Men in Blue have so far been able to put on complete performances in each of their three games against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan. While the top-order has consistently given good starts, the bowlers, aided by some brilliant fielding, have backed it up with disciplined performance.
Rohit Sharma has been in imperious form and has scored two hundreds and a half-century. Virat Kohli has also looked in his usual hard-hitting form and K.L. Rahul has been in fine touch too.
However, injury to key players like Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar has led the team management to worry a little.
Dhawan has been ruled out of the tournament with a fractured thumb and stumper Rishabh Pant has been inducted into the squad. Bhuvneshwar is suffering from a hamstring injury and has been sidelined for the next two-three games.
While, Rahul replaced Dhawan in the opening slot against Pakistan, Mohammad Shami will in all likelihood play his first match of the ongoing World Cup against Afghanistan.
There is also some doubt over Vijay Shankar’s inclusion, who was in pain after being hit on his toes by a Jasprit Bumrah yorker during India’s training session on Wednesday. However, Bumrah revealed that there was no serious concern and Shankar is fit to play.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, have just not been unable to recreate the magic they did in the World Cup Qualifiers and Asia Cup last year, and have faced five defeats in as many games so far.
They have been below par with both bat and ball and the sloppy fieldwork has also not helped their cause.
Rashid Khan has not been able to find any rhythm and has gone for plenty without taking many wickets in the ongoing tournament so far.
Thus, Afghanistan would hope that their star cricketer comes out with a much improved performance and help them earn their first points in the showpiece event.
Squads: India: Virat Kohli (c), Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, MS Dhoni (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Vijay Shankar, Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav
Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (c), Noor Ali Zadran, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah (wk), Asghar Afghan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Dawlat Zadran, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Ikram Ali Khil