India will look to avoid adding to the list of great limited-overs upsets when they open their World Twenty20 campaign against Afghanistan in a Group A clash today.
While many fans will assume victory is a formality, India know better than to predict the outcome of a Twenty20 game. India were hurt by a five-wicket defeat to Pakistan in a warm-up game after prevailing over Sri Lanka but questions were raised over the bowlers’ performance, with only Ravichandran Ashwin getting among the wickets.
Earlier, they lost to New Zealand in a one-off Twenty20 international. But with the stage now set, Dhoni’s men will be keen to start on a fresh, winning note. While the game may appear a mismatch, India captain MS Dhoni said facing free-swinging Afghanistan, now in their second World Twenty20, was no easy task.
“Wins don’t come easy in international cricket and we are certainly not going to take any side lightly,” said Dhoni, who led India to the inaugural World Twenty20 title in South Africa in 2007. “We have to play our best cricket to beat Afghanistan. They are a good team and have improved a lot over the years.”
India will also experiment with different field placements to compensate for their bowling deficiencies.
“Bowling has always been a bit of a concern. If you compare our batting to our bowling, we find the latter slightly weaker. We will try different strategies and different field settings, so that it can complement our way of bowling.”
Dhoni also said Yuvraj Singh, who has returned to the team after cancer treatment, looked fit for the shortest version of the game.
“He looks fit especially for this format. It’s a short format and he is not 100 per cent fit for something like test cricket right now. But for this format, he is shaping well.”
‘Afghanistan ready for
Afghanistan captain Nawroz Mangal said his side had come a long way since their World Twenty20 debut in the Caribbean in 2010, when they lost to India by seven wickets.
“We are ready for the challenge,” said Mangal. “Teams like Ireland have shown that the best can be beaten and we are inspired by that. We too want to beat a big team.”
Mangal said it was important to live up to the expectations of fans back home in the war-ravaged nation.
“They expect a lot from us now. Earlier our fans just wanted us to match the big sides, now they want us to beat them.”
“Wins don’t come easy in international cricket and we’re not going to take any side lightly. We have to play our best to beat Afghanistan.”
“We’re ready for the challenge. Teams like Ireland have shown that the best can be beaten and we’re inspired by that. We too want to beat a big team.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2012.
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