NEW DELHI: As the Indian team prepares to face Afghanistan in their opening Super Eight stage match of the T20 World Cup 2024 on Thursday in Barbados, the focus is squarely on the batting performance, especially that of ex-skipper Virat Kohli.
During the New York group stage, Indian batsmen found it challenging to cope with the difficult batting conditions, with Kohli only managing to score in single digits throughout all three games.However, former Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan remains unfazed by the current situation.Pathan expressed his unwavering belief in Kohli’s capability to deliver in crucial moments while speaking on Star Sports. “He knows how to stand up in big matches, isn’t he? That’s what makes him really, really special,” IANS quoted Pathan as saying.
“He’s a special player and I’m sure he’s going to put his hand up and say OK, I’m going to do this for Team India. When the time comes, especially in the big matches, we have always seen Virat Kohli perform. Just wait and watch, the slog sweep will come out now. He will definitely use those shots because, look, those conditions in New York were challenging. But now things will be different, and you’ll see a real Virat Kohli coming to the fore.”
Pathan’s confidence in Kohli is not without reason. The star batsman has consistently performed in crucial moments, and his assertive style during the group matches, although not resulting in substantial runs, suggests a deliberate change in tactics aimed at throwing off the opposition’s bowlers from the start.
Supporters who have been eagerly awaiting this aggressive approach, similar to his IPL performances, might witness it come to fruition in the match against Afghanistan.
Nevertheless, the Indian batting order will have to contend with a daunting spin attack from the Afghan side, spearheaded by the trio of Rashid Khan, Noor Ahmad, and Mohammad Nabi.
Ambati Rayudu, a former Indian cricketer, shared his thoughts on the potential strategy India could employ against Rashid, the Afghan spin sensation. Rashid, who underwent surgery after the ODI World Cup 2023, hasn’t been at his devastating best since his return to the international arena.
“I think the biggest challenge against Rashid Khan is trying to be too aggressive against him. That is where you land in trouble,” Rayudu explained. “As a batter, you need to just wait for those loose balls and capitalize on them. After his injury, I don’t think his pace is the same. So, you have enough time now, and people have been getting after Rashid. Also, the Indian batsmen know him very well.”
Rayudu’s examination of Rashid’s bowling highlights the need for a calculated strategy when facing the Afghan spinner. By taking advantage of any slight decrease in his speed and pouncing on infrequent mistakes, Indian batsmen may find success against him.
This tactical approach, combined with the expected return to form of Kohli, might prove pivotal for India as they confront the spin challenge posed by Afghanistan’s bowling attack.