India vs Afghanistan: Ajinkya Rahane's team won't take newcomers lightly
Again, ideally, it should be Murali Vijay and KL Rahul, the two most technically equipped openers in the squad but the temptation to play the left-handed Shikhar Dhawan in favourable home conditions will always be there
Whatever unfolds at the Chinnaswamy Stadium over the next five days (or less), one thing is guaranteed — the Afghanistan cricket team will be a winner all the way. They have braved bomb blasts, occasionally lost near and dear ones, stayed away from what they call home for months together, if not years, and yet here they are, all set to compete in a Test match — the ultimate format in the game and against the World No. 1 Test side. None of this is lost on the Ajinkya Rahane-led Indians.
But once on the field after the initial formalities of ushering in Afghanistan as the 12th Test playing nation are done by Rahane & Co., this will be another Test match, one that just has to be won. Rahane, who often finds himself in the piquant situation of either being the captain or out of the playing XI, said as much at the official press conference. They will not take the Test lightly and in fact will be ruthless, he said.
What he didn't reveal was the playing XI or even the possible combination. Sources would have us believe many things but the ideal thing would be go in with five batsmen, a wicketkeeper/batsman, one pace bowling all-rounder, two spinners who can bat and two pacers, never mind that they most certainly can't bat. Within that comes the choice of openers.
Again, ideally, it should be Murali Vijay and KL Rahul, the two most technically equipped openers in the squad but the temptation to play the left-handed Shikhar Dhawan in favourable home conditions will always be there. Perhaps, as is being rumoured, instead of accommodating Rahul at No. 4 ahead of his Karnataka middle-order specialist Karun Nair, there could be a case of pushing Dhawan down. The visitors have no such pressing issues or to be honest none that we know of. Whoever plays, their biggest test will be with the bat. The pitch laid out has (or had yesterday) a fair sprinkling of grass but its more or less expected to be a batting beauty. Watch out for the rains though, they could play their part too, just as they did with Afghanistan's final net session yesterday afternoon, which was greeted by a short and sharp shower.
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