September 25, Tuesday; 17:00 IST
Dubai International Cricket Stadium
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar
The main picture
Playing Afghanistan before the final is likely to be a positive for India, who have played extremely well to qualify but not been tested in the three matches after surviving a scare from Hong Kong. India have been so good that even Afghanistan, who are out of contention for the final, might not run them close. But Afghanistan’s performances against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh (twice) suggest that—with their varied bowling attack, safe catching, big hitters in their batting line-up, and the spirit they bring to the table—they will give India a competitive match ahead of Friday’s final.
Afghanistan’s inability to finish off matches after getting into winning positions, particularly in Sunday’s Super Four fixture against Bangladesh, has been the main reason for their not being in contention for the final. They were blown away by India in their inaugural Test but, in white-ball cricket, they are more equipped to compete and have the potential to spring a surprise.
From India’s perspective, the imperative is to remain focussed and ensure they arrive in the best shape for the final. If we are being critical, India’s only concern will be that the middle order hasn’t had much of a hit since the win over Hong Kong.
Dubai International Cricket Stadium pitch report and weather forecast
India have been able to play to their strengths (spin bowling and chasing totals batting second) so far in Dubai and, against Afghanistan, they hold a distinct advantage, in that Afghanistan will be playing at the Dubai Stadium for the first time in the Asia Cup. But the conditions are conducive to spin bowlers (and so, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi will be in the game), particularly in the afternoon, while batting second, under lights, has seemed the better option.
The weather forecast says that Tuesday will be sunny but less humid, with the evening temperature hovering in the early to mid-30s (degree Celsius).
India vs Afghanistan head to head in ODI
India have played an ODI Afghanistan only once before, which was also at the Asia Cup (2014 edition). India won by eight wickets on that occasion.
India vs Afghanistan playing XI
India were unchanged for Sunday’s fixture against Pakistan and, on the back of another flawless performance, India will not want to play with the rhythm of the players and the team consequently.
Likely India playing XI: 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Jasprit Bumrah, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Afghanistan have played well, they have so far fielded their first-choice XI and gotten into winning positions. Therefore, they might not feel the need for a change unless they are more keen on experimenting.
Probable Afghanistan playing XI: 1 Asghar Afghan (c), 2 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 3 Ihsanullah Janat, 4 Rahmat Shah, 5 Hashmatullah Shahidi, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Samiullah Shenwari, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 10 Aftab Alam, 11 Gulbadin Naib
Unless the teams tinker with their playing XIs and lack intensity, given that the fixture has nothing riding on it, we are likely to witness a good contest!