Fresh off their first win in the 2014 Asia Cup, Afghanistan will be looking for another major upset when they take on India Wednesday.
The win marked an important landmark for the Afghans, as this year's edition of the Asia Cup happens to be Afghanistan's first entry. Their rise in the world of cricket has been sharp to say the least, and their victory over Bangladesh was as much a cause for celebration as it was an embarrassment to their opponents.
India aren't Bangladesh, however, and even though Pakistan's win on Tuesday knocked India out of contention for the final, there's no reason to believe they won't be looking to go out with a bang. In fact, after losing to both Pakistan and Sri Lanka by a combined three wickets, India will be looking to make a statement.
Afghanistan's numbers against the two finalists aren't pretty, being beaten by a combined 201 runs. The newcomers to ODIs must hope they can avoid a similar fate against the Indian team.
Peter Miller is hoping for the best:
Now if Afghanistan beat India I am not sure how this Asia cup can get any better. Loved it so far.— Peter Miller (@TheCricketGeek) March 4, 2014
Here's a look at all the essential information, followed by a preview and prediction.
Venue: Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpu
Date: Wednesday, March 5
Start time: 2 p.m. local time, 8 a.m. GMT
Weather: Sunny with a high of 31 degrees, according to The Weather Channel.
TV info: Star Life Ok (Sky Channel 783, UK)
Asghar Stanikzai was the driving force in Afghanistan's victory over Bangladesh, hitting six fours and three sixes, and his teammates will be hoping for a similar output Wednesday. Samiullah Shenwari is another batsman that could do some damage to the Indian bowling attack.
While the 2014 Asia Cup might already be unforgettable, Indian fans will want to get over their team's performance as soon as possible.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni will perhaps sigh a breath of relief, as his position as team captain had become a point of discussion in recent months, as reported by NDTV Sports. Without their injured wicketkeeper, India failed to produce a single convincing performance over the course of the entire tournament and fans seem to have noticed:
India's performance in the Asia Cup has turned out to be a giant Dhon PR campaign. Can't win w/out the captain, can't live w/out the keeper.— krtgrphr (@krtgrphr) March 2, 2014
Virat Kohli was the team's most impressive batsman during their opening fixture against Bangladesh, but he has cooled off significantly since then. The team's batting was supposed to be a strength, but the group as a whole never lived up to the expectations:
India deserved to go out coz the famed batting line up managed 245 on this ground— Ayush (@Ayush_RedDevil) March 4, 2014
In what shouldn't be seen as a surprise, India's bowling was nowhere to be seen during the tournament. Faizan Lakhani points out the painful truth:
Indian bowlers can not defend small total, India has lost 64% of ODIs in which team was bowled out for less than 250 while batting 1st.— Faizan Lakhani (@faizanlakhani) March 2, 2014
Mohammed Shami and company will be hoping for a good performance in their final match to help erase memories of the painful defeat to Pakistan and restore some confidence to India's bowling as a whole.
This tournament has already been a win for Afghanistan. Their performances have been spirited and this young team seems to have a bright future. But handling India's batting attack might be too much to ask. Experience and explosiveness make the difference in this one.
All statistics are courtesy of ESPN Cricinfo.