We are back to one match at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 on Wednesday and the competition heads back to Delhi where the tournament hosts India will be looking to strengthen their position. Afghanistan are the latest team to challenge them.
India comfortably beat Australia in their opening match and a win here will have them sitting pretty in the early table. Afghanistan were dispatched by Bangladesh so they will be going for their first win of the competition here.
India would have wanted a strong fixture to start the tournament off with and they had that against Australia. Sometimes you can ease your way into one of these events with a soft schedule and then when you come up against someone who are half-decent you come up short because you are not battle hardened. That isn’t the case with India. They took on arguably the second favourites for the title and but for a few overs at the start of their batting innings they controlled the game.
India will certainly have been delighted with their bowling effort where they proved they have the attack that can be rotated depending on the conditions and that they can still get the job done. They had Australia contained early on and never really relinquished their grip on it. Their top order were shot out but when they needed two experienced batters to ease them out of trouble and to victory they found them which bodes well.
I think it is fair to say that Afghanistan didn’t play very well at all in their opening match. Whether that was down to the pressure of the stage, expectation of it being a winnable game or just a bad day at the office only they will know but it wasn’t particularly well timed if it was the latter. Where I was disappointed with Afghanistan was nobody really showed up to take responsibility to get them to some sort of competitive score with the bat.
They will definitely need some batters to step up and be counted in this match if they are going to be competitive in it let alone win it. You would imagine in certain conditions they will be fine with the ball, although it might be that this Delhi track is not probably one which will suit their attack as well as some others, so that is another reason why their batters will need to stand up and perform much better in this match.
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There is no real reason for India to change their winning side for this match. Shubman Gill has been ruled out with dengue symptoms once again. If they do change it might be to bring a seamer for a spinner in which Shardul Thakur could come in.
Afghanistan might feel like they want to make changes for this match but whether they have anyone waiting on the side who will improve the XI technically is open to debate. They might send the same XI into battle again and hope they perform better.
Virat Kohli has had three innings against Afghanistan in limited overs cricket in his career and he has made 50 in each of them and the even money that he does it again looks good to me. We have only had one match on this ground but the wicket was absolutely superb when South Africa and Sri Lanka played here and the former broke all sorts of records. If India bat first there is half a chance that they could do the same with the small boundaries here.
Kohli hit the ground running in this tournament with his 85 against Australia on a tricky Chennai pitch so on a much better batting wicket against a bowling attack which is nothing like as good you’ve got to think that he is going to score well in this match. I guess the risk is that Afghanistan don’t put up much of a score and India’s openers don’t leave enough runs but Kohli is run hungry and I would be surprised if that situation presents itself. I expect him to fill his boots here.
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