Out of sorts India face tricky Afghanistan

DUBAI: All but out of reckoning for the summit clash, a dishevelled India would like to put their house in order before facing a gutsy Afghanistan team which could prove to be a proverbial banana peel in the final Super 4 clash of the Asia Cup on Thursday.
The Indian team hasn’t performed to its full potential in the Super 4 stage and lack of resources and poor team selection can also be blamed for back-to-back demoralising defeats against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
What ails the current Indian team is lack of flexibility in its planning and perhaps a few fingers will be pointed at head coach Rahul Dravid.
It seems that Dravid is wary of taking a few hard calls when it comes to team selections as the team does not seem to have a Plan B in its armoury.
In this backdrop, an Afghanistan team with some top quality T20 players like Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Zadran, Mohammed Nabi, Hazratullah Zazai and the exciting Rahamanullah Gurbaz can really set the cat amongst pigeons.
This is a team that can chase down a targets in the 170-odd range with its power hitters and can also restrict opposition to manageable totals with leader of the attack Rashid intimidating the opposition.
What goes against them as a team is collective inexperience of not playing the bigger cricketing nations regularly. However T20 is one format where an individual performance can decisively tilt the scales.
Afghanistan team has many such players who can upset the applecart.
As far as India is concerned, the head coach and captain Rohit Sharma haven’t yet showed any inclination to change the batting order and check out other options.
It would be interesting to see if Dinesh Karthik is brought back for the final game in place of Rishabh Pant or Deepak Hooda.
Hooda, who batted at No. 7 wasn’t given an over to bowl and the skipper defended the move by stating that presence of two rampaging Sri Lankan opener (Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis) didn’t allow him to introduce the Baroda man into the attack.
Also the Sri Lanka match proved that India can’t afford to play Hardik Pandya as the specialist fifth bowler, which would always put heavy burden on the all-rounder.
Yuzvendra Chahal did find some form back with three wickets but India would need someone like Deepak Chahar, who needs to be tried out going into the T20 World Cup.
While batter Rohit has shown positivity both against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, one would expect the skipper to take an inspired call and rejig the top three for a few games to see if there is any apparent change in the results as well as the approach.
One of the reasons for India not being able to close out matches at the death has been Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s poor penultimate overs in successive games. That left young Arshdeep Singh with only seven runs to defend in both games.
Skipper Rohit, however urged everyone not to be too harsh on Bhuvneshwar.
“Even experienced bowlers go for runs. Bhuvi has been playing for us for so many years and has won us so many matches in death overs,” Rohit said in his senior seamer’s defence.

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