Gautam Gambhir said it won’t be an easy task for India to go after the Afghanistan bowlers in their must-win Super 12, Group 2 match in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Afghanistan’s batting may not strike fear into the opposition, but their spin-bowling attack comprising Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Mohammad Nabi is enough to give sleepless nights to any team in the T20 World Cup. Stressing on that point, former India opener Gautam Gambhir said it won’t be an easy task for Virat Kohli and Co. to go after the Afghanistan bowlers in their must-win Super 12, Group 2 match in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Gautam Gambhir said Afghanistan has a better bowling attack than the likes of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The fastest to 100 wickets in 53 T20Is, leg spinner Rashid Khan single-handedly tested Pakistan with his leg-spin before an Asif Ali cameo saw Pakistan win. Mujeeb Ur Rahman, a mystery spinner who has nearly all the variations, returned his career-best T20I figures of 5-20 in his team’s 130-run rout of Scotland.
“Afghanistan aren’t pushovers. They have a better bowling attack than the likes of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” Gambhir said ahead of India vs Afghanistan encounter.
India’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals from this group are hanging on a thread. However, after having suffered confidence-denting defeats to Pakistan and New Zealand in their first two matches, their only option is to win their next three games against Afghanistan, Scotland, and Namibia comprehensively and then hope any of these three sides would go on to beat New Zealand, bringing the net run rate into play.
Gautam Gambhir said this situation can act as an added motivation to the Indian batters.
“In such a situation when runs are dried up, batters tend to play for their position, which can be extra motivation. Do that and get runs on the board. You try to win first, rather than thinking about the NRR. Once you are in the game, you play according to the situation,” he added.
The IPL came under severe criticism after India pacer Jasprit Bumrah acknowledged that fatigue was one of the reasons for the Men-in-Blue’s below-par show in this World Cup so far. Gautam Gambhir, however, disagreed.
The former left-hander said it is wrong to blame the IPL for the World Cup debacle so far. The Indian batters did not show enough intent against New Zealand, which has nothing to do with the IPL.
“You can’t blame the IPL. If anything goes wrong with Indian cricket, everyone starts pointing fingers towards the IPL. This is wrong. Sometimes, you have to expect that 2-3 teams are playing better cricket than you. The earlier you accept that, the better it will be for you.”
“In the previous game against New Zealand, we weren’t brave enough, we were so nervous before the game. What has that got to do with IPL? It was similar in the 2019 World Cup semi-final as well. At that time, we had come to the World Cup after playing in the Indian Premier League as well!” Gambhir added.
The former KKR skipper said IPL is important to give adequate match practice to players.
“Instead, IPL is important because players need adequate match practice. You can’t go into the World Cup with 2-3 games of practice and warm-ups,” he said.
India had to beat New Zealand to revive their campaign and were expected to come hard at the Blackcaps, but the complete opposite happened when they took the field in Dubai. Earlier, in their opening game, Virat Kohli’s men couldn’t defend 152 in Dubai as Pakistan’s openers chased it down in 17.5 overs. After being asked to bat first, the Men in Blue managed just 110 for 7 in 20 overs and then saw the Blackcaps gun down the target in just 14.3 overs.
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