By Saurabh Pandey

India will be facing Afghanistan in their next match tomorrow, only a win can help Team India to stay alive in the tournament.

The back-to-back loss of Team India against Pakistan and New Zealand has put Captain Kohli and the team in a very critical situation and their hopes to semis will only be alive if they defeat Afghanistan in their upcoming match. The Men in Blue will face Afghanistan tomorrow in their do-or-die match in Abu Dhabi.

But as of now how Afghanistan is playing and maintaining the huge Net Run Rate(NRR) of +3.09 won’t be easy and Team India will have to face a difficult assignment to reach the semifinals. They must first win their remaining matches, after which they will hope for favorable results.

A win against Afghanistan, Namibia, and Scotland would not suffice; Team India must record resounding victories, since the net run rate may also come into play.

Let’s have a look at the major points ahead of the match

The struggle with the bat:

As we can see the batting lineup is very disturbed at the moment. It’s because of Kohli’s decision to utilize different openers in each of the matches played so far. In the opening match against Pakistan, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma opened for team India, and in the very next match Rohit was pushed to number 3 and Ishan Kishan opened with KL Rahul and the decision was forced because Surya was suffering from his back twitch. But it didn’t affect the batting scenario for the team as the top order crumbled down against New Zealand in their previous match.

Down in the lane, middle orders like Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, and Ravindra Jadeja have performed slightly underwhelmed and were not able to give Team India that momentum that was required.

And After the game, Kohli stated that his team was not brave enough with the bat in hand.

Now it’s up to them to see if they’ve been emancipated enough to go all-in on Afghanistan’s first ball. However, with Afghanistan’s spin attack, which includes Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, this will be difficult.

With the ball in hand against New Zealand, Jasprit Bumrah was the sole bright spot, as the rest of the team struggled. Talking about Varun Chakravarty who was bought by the management as the mystery bowler by the performance it is clear that his mystery is now revealed, and now it’s time that the experience R. Ashwin should be considered in the playing XI.

The poor Net Run Rate

The net run-rate will play a major role for team India to qualify for the semis as of now India is standing in the second last position with the net run rate of -1.609, and even if they manage to win all three games against their opponents they still have to maintain their Net Run Rate to qualify which will not be easy, As Afghanistan is standing at the top in terms of Net Run Rate with the massive rate of +3.09, because of their big wins against Scotland and Namibia.

New Zealand and Pakistan also have a decent Net Run Rate and they still have their match with Scotland and Namibia, and it will be a great challenge for India to manage in the top two of the Group stage.

If we assume that both New Zealand and Pakistan beat Scotland and Namibia without any big margins, and if Afghanistan beat New Zealand, then there is still a chance that India will qualify for the semis.

Afghanistan at their top game

Talking about Afghanistan, they have proven themselves as an underdog in this T20 World Cup by their outstanding performance so far by winning two out of three games. In their first game, they had a colossal win of 130 runs against Scotland, in which their spin twin made the game one-sided. Mujeeb-ur-Rahman and Rashid Khan took five and four wickets respectively.

And so in their match against Pakistan though they haven’t won that game but gave their opponent some tough time and was a nail-biting finish and Rashid managed to get two wickets in the match.

They bounced back in their third game against Namibia and won with a high margin of 62 runs, in which Mohammed Shahzad played a great knock of 45. With this win, they are currently standing in second place in the points table after Pakistan. If they win their match against India, their path to the semi-finals will become clearer. Afghanistan’s strategy has been to bat first and provide runs for their bowling arsenal.

The game between India and Afghanistan will be exciting since India needs to win to stay alive, while if the Afghans win they will blaze the trail as they continue to rise in the cricketing ladder. However, as with the T20 format, it will all come down to how well the team executes their skills on the day.

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