The Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday hosts match No. 11 of the ongoing Asia Cup 2018 between India and Afghanistan. Since their ’rocky’ first match victory against a cavalier Hong Kong side, India have proceeded to stamp their superiority on the competition in no uncertain terms. They have put in some formidable all-round performances of such quality that they have left all their rivals in their wake.
Having progressed into the ‘Super Four’ stage, the Rohit Sharma-led Men in Blue have already secured their place in this Friday’s final after convincing wins over Bangladesh and Pakistan by seven and nine wickets, respectively.
India have had their injury woes among their first choice players though, with Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel and in particular Hardik Pandya, who has a worrying back injury, all side-lined. However, such is the depth of talent in their squad, their omission has hardly been noticed.
In contrast, Afghanistan will be making their way to the airport after this match as they now have no way of making it to the final, having suffered defeat in both their matches against Bangladesh and Pakistan.
They will be bitterly disappointed not to be progressing further in this competition having made it into the ‘Super Four’ stage. As a team unit, they not only continue to impress with both bat and ball, they also continue to work their way up the ICC ODI rankings.
So India will have the luxury of making a few changes to the batting order or giving some newbies a run out if desired. Afghanistan, on the other hand, will be looking to go out with a bang and hopefully a win. Whatever happens, it should be a belter of a match!
Players to watch: Hardly a match goes by without Jasprit Bumrah taking an important wicket or two. He has such great control of his line and lengths that the opposition batsmen are finding him a real handful to score off. For Afghanistan, Hashmatullah Shahidi is proving he can play with the big boys. He has averaged 87.66 in his four matches played in this competition, and his innings of 97 not out against Pakistan was world class. Watch out India!
Stat attack: Ravindra Jadeja has scored 1,914 ODI runs and needs 86 to reach 2,000 runs and become the sixth Indian player to do the 2,000 runs/100 wickets double. While, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has taken 96 ODI wickets and needs four more to reach the 100 wickets milestone. Whereas for Afghanistan, Samiullah Shenwari has taken 44 ODI wickets and needs six more to reach 50 ODI wickets and become only the second Afghan to do the 1,000 runs/50 wickets double.