Afghanistan has played a brilliant stretch against Bangladesh in their recent campaign. The team that whitewashed Bangladesh by 3-0 in T20 will play against India, the home team. The format is the longest one, the maiden Test International for Afghanistan. While India is the top Test team with some of the best Test players of the world, Afghanistan’s first ever campaign is expected to have several learning points, apart from the results like a win or a defeat. This India vs Afghanistan 2018 match is the first for India too, since their January tour to South Africa.
The squad facing Afghanistan has several changes. Virat Kohli is rested, Wriddhiman Saha is injured, while Umesh Jadav is absent. Dinesh Karthik will play as the wicket-keeper after almost a decade, eight years of hiatus. Also, there are probabilities of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar coming again to bowl, as Mohammed Shami is unfit and Umesh Yadav is not sure yet.
India should also decide on the best opening pair from the combination of Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and Lokesh Rahul. Of this, Murali Vijay has played a little cricket since the last tussle against South Africa. This fact, however, will not impact MSK Prasad’s decision to put up the batsman.
The enigma over Umesh Yadav’s selection is the number of options like Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, apart from Bumrah and Kumar, against former’s impressive performance in the latest IPL series. Meanwhile, Ishant Sharma is back from England, where he played for Warwickshire. India’s bowling ensemble should have a balance between spin and pace options. In this balance, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal would be crucial. Also, the selectors are also trying out for Shivil Kaushik.
As far as the pitch is concerned, the green pitch of Bengaluru would help India to get ready for conditions in England. On the other hand, it would also an advantage against Afghanistan’s spin heavy attack. With practice sessions going on so far, the Primary XI has four main bowlers and six batsmen. Including a wrist spinner into the ensemble might make the equation stronger. The match against Afghanistan would be also an evaluation of the current selection, in terms of their forms and compatibility.
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