April 30, 2010 by admin
India begin their ICC T20 World Cup campaign with a Group C match against Afghanistan at the Beausejour Stadium, Gros Islet, St Lucia on Saturday in what, could be a fairly one-sided affair. Andrew Hughes previews the opening fixture in Group C. Afghanistan’s morale could not be higher after qualifying for this tournament in style in February and comfortably disposing of Ireland in a warm-up game.
Venue and conditions:
The Beausejour Cricket Ground has never hosted a Twenty20 game, so we have no statistics to guide us. But given that most of the pitches in the Caribbean have gone the same way in recent years, we can expect a slow, dry track with plenty of help for the spinners.
The Beausejour Stadium was the first to host a floodlit cricket match in the Caribbean, when West Indies played Zimbabwe in 2006.
Let’s first begin by congratulating Afghanistan on qualifying for the T20 World Cup and wish them well. They could hardly have picked a tougher group with India and South Africa joining them in Group C.
India are skippered by MS Dhoni who has just led the Chennai Super Kings to victory in IPL3. They have a wealth of talent in their squad though they were hugely disappointing when they were equally well fancied for this tournament last year. The majority of the squad have seen plenty of recent action in the IPL although Sehwag has been withdrawn due to injury. Murali Vijay who impressed in the IPL for the Super Kings could take Sehwag’s place alongside Gautam Gambhir and with many of the squad very capable with bat and ball, they should bat very deep.
Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra are the senior quick bowlers and they have any number of options when it comes to spin. Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla are the front-liners but Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh provide options with bat and ball that give the management a real selection headache. The two Super Kings young guns, Raina and Vijay were terrific in the IPL. Raina is a superb batsman and all round cricketer. A more than useful bowler he is also electric in the field and he finished third top of the IPL leading run scorer charts with 520 runs, averaging 47.27 with a strike rate of 142.85
This will be my first sight of the Afghan cricket team so I shall not speculate on who their better performers are likely to be. As for India, the problem with making a selection in the leading run scorer market is that they have so much competition for places that anyone failing early doors could see their starting place in jeopardy. They have looked the best squad on paper and yet failed before but these youngsters are immensely talented and the squad has a very balanced look.
Afghanistan’s morale could not be higher after qualifying for this tournament in style in February and comfortably disposing of Ireland in a warm-up game. India, meanwhile, have a poor record in major tournaments and crashed out in the Group stages of the last World Cup held in the Caribbean. So could an upset be on the cards?
Afghanistan are a settled side and are unlikely to make many changes. All-rounder Mirwais Ashraf may well miss out with quick bowler Dawlat Ahmadzai getting his chance.
For India, Murali Vijay will partner Gautam Gambhir and they may decide against picking three seam bowlers with Ravindra Jadeja likely to be preferred to Piyush Chawla as the second spinner. Praveen Kumar and Asish Nehra will fight it out to open the bowling with Zaheer Khan.