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Preview: T20 World Cup: Afghanistan vs. India - prediction, team news, series so far

Sports Mole previews the 2024 T20 World Cup match between Afghanistan and India, scheduled to be played at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Thursday.

India and Afghanistan will get their Super Eight phase of the 2024 T20 World Cup underway when they face off at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Thursday afternoon.

This promises to be an intriguing clash between the tournament favourites and number-one-ranked T20 side in the world, and the team that have been dubbed the dark horse of the tournament.


Match preview

Afghanistan celebrate wicket against England in Cricket World Cup on October 15, 2023.© Reuters

Few can forget the last time these sides met in Bengaluru, in what was one of the most incredible T20 matchups ever seen, as a high-scoring 212-212 tie was followed by not one but two super overs before India emerged victorious.

Afghanistan reaffirmed their emerging status as the surprise contenders of the 2024 T20 World Cup with a convincing seven-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea on Thursday, which propelled them into the Super Eight phase of the competition, while simultaneously eliminating New Zealand from the tournament.

However, that was followed by a massive defeat to the West Indies in a dead-rubber final match of the group stage on Tuesday, where we saw several records broken thanks to an inspired innings by Nicholas Pooran.

The Blue Tigers ended on the wrong side of a 218/5 total posted by the Windies, which is the highest total by any team in this edition of the T20 World Cup, surpassing Sri Lanka's 201/6 against the Netherlands and Australia's 201/7 versus the defending champions England in Barbados.

While Afghanistan have won over several fans in this competition due to their 'lay it all on the line' approach, they now have to face the mighty Men in Blue, who they have never got the better off in the shortest format of the game.

India's Axar Patel celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of South Africa's Rassie van der Dussen on June 5, 2024© Reuters

Meanwhile, India secured their place in the Super Eight stage of the 2024 T20 World Cup by defeating the USA in their third Group A match at the much-spoken-about Nassau County International Stadium in New York.

Prior to that, the team had overcome Ireland and arch-rivals Pakistan, securing the top spot in Group A, despite their final match against Canada in Florida on Saturday being abandoned due to weather conditions.

India won the first-ever T20 World Cup back in 2007 in South Africa when they lost their first Super Eight match to New Zealand. However, they bounced back in style to finish top of the table before the MS Dhoni-led side went on to lift the trophy.

In the 2022 tournament, under the guidance of Rohit Sharma, India again finished top of the table despite a loss against South Africa, before being beaten by eventual title holders England in the semis.

After a disappointing home ODI World Cup last year, the Men in Blue will be doubly determined to achieve success in the 20-over format, and most would likely agree they still have a fair few gears to go through, having hardly been challenged to this point.


Team News

Afghanistan's Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi celebrate after winning the match by 8 wickets on October 23, 2023© Reuters

To put into perspective just how well the Blue Tigers have performed to this point, we can glance at the current top performers, which shows Afghanistan players currently sitting atop the charts.

Fazalhaq Farooqi extended his lead as the tournament's leading wicket-taker by claiming three more victims, as PNG were dismissed for just 95 in 19.5 overs while batting first in the Group C match at the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad.

Despite being dismissed for a duck in the last match, Rahmanullah Gurbaz is the current leading run-scorer in the tournament with 167 runs and a strike-rate of 150.45.

In the lead-up to this match, Sharma mentioned the importance of retaining all four of his all-rounders in the squad to provide the team with greater balance on the tricky wickets in the US and Caribbean.

Therefore, the India captain will be left with a major decision to make, particularly around whether to favour the wrist-spin of Kuldeep Yadav above one of his pacemen.

One player that will be determined to hit his stride in the Super Eight is Virat Kohli, who will have fond memories of this opponent, having scored his first ton in the shortest format when the sides faced off in the Asia Cup in 2022.


Afghanistan squad: Rashid Khan (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Azmatullah Omarzai, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Ishaq, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Nangyal Kharoti, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Fareed Ahmad Malik.

India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.


Series so far

Afghanistan

Match One: Afghanistan won by 125 runs
Afghanistan - 183/5 (20)
Uganda - 58 (16)

Match Two: Afghanistan won by 84 runs
Afghanistan - 159/6 (20)
New Zealand - 75 (15.2)

Match Three: Afghanistan won by 7 wickets
Papua New Guinea - 95 (19.5)
Afghanistan - 101/3 (15.1)

Match Four: Afghanistan lost by 104 runs
West Indies - 218/5 (20)
Afghanistan - 114 (16.2)


India

Match One: India won by 8 wickets
Ireland - 96 (16)
India - 97/2 (12.2)

Match Two: India won by 6 runs
India - 119 (19)
Pakistan - 113/7 (20)

Match Three: India won by 7 wickets
USA - 110/8 (20)
India - 111/3 (18.2)

Match Four: No Result


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We say: India to win

India have got to the Super Eight having barely broken a sweat, living up to expectations as the tournament favourite. While Afghanistan have been one of the most entertaining teams to watch this year, they have never beaten the Men in Blue in a T20I and we feel they will suffer another defeat in this one.

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England celebrate taking a wicket against Pakistan on May 25, 2024.
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