Following its reverses against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, it is almost sure that India shall not progress to the finals of the 2014 Asia Cup. For Indian fans, who had been hoping for a turnaround following the reverses in New Zealand this would come as a major disappointment. However, given the overall experience level of the team as well as the recent performance graph, such an outcome should probably not seem too out of place. India, though, need to play Afghanistan today and even though for most this may seem a redundant encounter, for the team it will be very important.
Form: From the point of view of form, a win in this encounter would at least provide some self belief for the team before it comes back again on March 14 for the World T20. A defeat, on the other hand, would only serve to extend the ignominy.
Team composition: This game, considering the fact that it has no chance of reaching the finals, should allow India the luxury to test out the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishwar Pandey. However, Kohli is not known to operate like that and will most probably go in with the team that competed against Pakistan. It is unlikely that any one of Pujara or Pandey will get a chance unless any first choice players are injured.
For Afghanistan, if the team is serious is about winning against India then it should rest Ashraf for this game and bring in Hamid Hassan. While Ashraf is an excellent bowler with a commendable command over line and length, his brand of quicker-than medium pace bowling may not trouble the Indians so much as Hassan’s extra pace would do. They should look at what Talha did to Indian batsmen.
What could happen? It is hard, as any match involving the Indian national team, to predict the outcome. However, it can be said for sure that Afghanistan would give India a serious run for its money and India, in spite of being defeated against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, remain favorites for this match.