The State of Play
India will play their final T20 tune-up series before the World Cup when they host Afghanistan over three matches, the first of which coming tomorrow in Mohali.
They will have some of their big guns back in the shortest format with both Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli set to take part, although Kohli will miss tomorrow’s opener for personal reasons. Neither has played T20 cricket for India since the World Cup semi-final defeat to England in November 2022.
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It is an indication that India are taking this format seriously although they still have to weigh it against the forthcoming Test series against England which explains the absences of bowlers Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindran Jadeja and Mohammed Siraj.
Afghanistan showed at the ODI World Cup that they have plenty of nous when it comes to white-ball cricket and they will be tricky opponents for India, particularly on spin-friendly wickets.
With the T20 World Cup in mind, they have also lined up matches against Sri Lanka and Ireland before the tournament in the West Indies and USA gets underway in June.
The returning Sharma will open with Yashasvi Jaiswal with Shubman Gill likely to move up the order in Kohli’s absence. Ishan Kishan is unavailable after asking to be rested while Shreyas Iyer was left out of the squad.
Afghanistan will be without all-rounder Rashid Khan who has yet to recover fully from lower-back surgery.
Spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman is set to lead the tourists’ attack after resolving a dispute with the country’s cricket board.
India: Sharma (c), Jaiswal, Gill, Samson (wk), R Singh, Dube, Patel, A Singh, K Yadav, Kumar, Khan
Afghanistan: Gurbaz (wk), Hazratullah, Ibrahim (c), Omarzai, Alikhil, Najibullah, Nabi, Mujeeb, Ahmad, Naveen, Farooqi
🗣️ 🗣️ It will be a good challenge against the Afghanistan spinners and we are looking forward to it#TeamIndia Head Coach Rahul Dravid ahead of the #INDvAFG T20I series starting tomorrow @IDFCFIRSTBank pic.twitter.com/Tr6P7zOMSL
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 10, 2024
What they Said
India coach Rahul Dravid on juggling commitments
“Obviously, for the large part of the last year, and after the last T20 World Cup, we had prioritised the one-day World Cup. There has not been a lot of games after the one-day World Cup for us in terms of the T20 format. So this T20 World Cup is slightly different from that perspective, in the sense that there’s not been a lot of time to prepare for it. So we have to rely obviously on the cricket that we have. And also a little bit on the IPL. But the boys will play T20 cricket. So they’ll be playing here, they’ll play the IPL. We might not get many opportunities to play together, so we’ll just have to work around that.
Afghanistan captain Ibrahim Zadran on the challenge of playing India
Playing against India on their home soil is a difficult task, but we came here to play well against them and show our skills. We have lots of good T20 players, all our boys are playing good cricket, so I am sure they will play well. We will have a good series against India.”
When and How to Watch
India against Afghanistan takes place at 1.30pm UK time tomorrow. It is not being shown live in the UK.
Afghanistan will fancy their chances of taking an early lead in the series and if their spinners can get on top, they will make life very difficult for India. Kohli’s absence would weaken any side so I fancy the tourists to edge it tomorrow.