3 things India need to do right to beat Afghanistan in Super 8 of 2024 T20 World Cup

USA v India - ICC Men
USA v India - ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup West Indies & USA 2024

India and Afghanistan are all set to square off at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, to kick off their proceedings in the Super 8 stage of the ongoing T20 World Cup 2024. The two sides had some brilliant outings in the group stage and will be eyeing a spot in the top two of Group 1 now.

The Indian team had an unbeaten run in the group stage, where they were placed alongside Ireland, Pakistan, Canada and the USA. While India won their games against the Irish team, their arch-rivals Pakistan and the co-hosts USA, their match against Canada was abandoned.

The Men in Blue have found the right momentum going into the next stage, but there still are things that need to fall in place for the plans to work out smoothly. On that note, let’s look at three things India need to do right to beat Afghanistan in their upcoming match.

#1 Indian openers must build the innings to set the momentum

The Indian openers have struggled throughout the group stage, especially Virat Kohli. The former India captain was in top form at the IPL, which concluded just a week before the T20 World Cup, but seems to have lost his touch.

Skipper Rohit Sharma too has failed to provide his side with the desired starts. With the Super 8 stage moving to a different venue for the Indian side, the veteran opening batters would be hoping to turn the tables on the Caribbean soil.

With three crucial matches being lined up for India, the openers need to build the innings early on and set the momentum straight for the middle-order batters to carry the game forward.

While the pitches in the US didn’t prove to be batting-friendly, the surface in the West Indies has assisted both batters and bowlers equally so far and it’ll be a good opportunity for Kohli and Rohit to get back in shape and in time.

#2 Bowlers must get Rahmanullah Gurbaz out early in the powerplay

Afghanistan v Papua New Guinea - ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup West Indies & USA 2024
Afghanistan v Papua New Guinea - ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup West Indies & USA 2024

Afghanistan opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz has been in top form this season, and getting him out of the game will be crucial for India. In Afghanistan’s previous game against the Windies, Gurbaz’s wicket in the first over of the game initiated an unwanted collapse, which might as well repeat if the keeper-batter is dismissed cheaply.

He has been a crucial cog in Afghanistan’s batting lineup and has played his role brilliantly, with the bat and with the gloves behind the stumps. As for India, the task will be on new-ball bowlers - Arshdeep Singh and Jasprit Bumrah, or Siraj if he bowls early on, to get him out early.

A perfect powerplay will set the tone for the Indian team for the rest of the innings, imparting confidence in bowlers who take charge next, especially the spinners. Given the pitch conditions in West Indies, India will have to strike the right balance between the bat and the ball.

#3 Bring Kuldeep Yadav into the playing XI

Speaking of striking the right balance, it will be important for India to add one more spinner to the lineup, as already indicated by head coach Rahul Dravid. With Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal warming the bench, the former is most likely to make his way into the playing XI.

Given Kuldeep’s experience and records at the grounds in the West Indies, the Indian management would be inclined to get the services of the left-arm wrist spinner for the Afghanistan game. While it’ll be a difficult decision to bench someone from the XI as India haven’t made any changes to their lineup so far, Shivam Dube will most likely make way for the spinner.

India will be heavy on all-round options with Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel in the lineup. Patel was even promoted up the order recently and his contribution with the bat of late have been noteworthy and beneficial for the side.

With Kuldeep Yadav’s inclusion in the playing XI, India will have the right number of batters and bowlers to tackle Afghanistan and get their first points in the Super 8 stage.

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Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee
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