India to begin World Twenty20 campaign against Afghanistan

April 30th, 2010 - 7:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Virender Sehwag Gros Islet (St. Lucia), April 30 (IANS) Eleven months after losing their World Twenty20 crown in England, India will take another shot at the title when they begin their campaign against new entrants Afghanistan here Saturday.
India won the inaugural championships in 2007 in South Africa that cracked the jackpot for the shorter format of the game. Twenty20 was an instant hit in cricket’s financial powerhouse India, who had earlier won a cricket World Cup (50 overs) way back in 1983.

But two years later in South Africa, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s boys made an early exit which had tongues wagging whether the first title was more of a fluke. Pakistan emerged as the surprise champions.

As skipper Dhoni believes, India have the potential and talent in their ranks to win back the title, but it will be tough to list them favourites in the highly unpredictable format.

The Indian Premier League (IPL) would come in handy for the Indian players, though it can slow them down a bit after 45-days of the tournament.

Though India would be opening against lowly Afghanistan before taking on South Africa, Dhoni has made it clear that they would not take the war-torn neighbours lightly.

Afghanistan would not be short of motivation. Far from the riches of Indian cricketers, the Afghanistan team has battled a raging war at home to come so far.

In two years, they have risen from Division Five of the World Cricket League to the elite 12-nation World Twenty20. They just missed out on qualifying for the 2011 World Cup but their gutsy show has earned them the full one-day international status.

They pulled off an impressive five-wicket win over Ireland in a warm-up match Wednesday and are looking to create a major upset to give back something to cheer for their countrymen.

“We are here not just to participate,” says Afghanistan head coach Kabir Khan. “The players and all of us are excited about the first game against India and we want to give them tough competition,” he says.

India would lack the firepower in the batting department with the absence of charismatic Virender Sehwag who is out with a shoulder injury. Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir’s bad patch is also a cause of worry for the team.

The bowling though looks razor sharp with Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, the two lead bowlers, having performed well for Mumbai Indians during the IPL. Dhoni will also have a host of part-time bowlers to pick from.

Teams–

India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain & Wicket Keeper ), Murali Vijay, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma, Piyush Chawla, R. Vinay Kumar.

Afghanistan (from): Nowroz Mangal (capt), Asghar Stanikzai, Dawlat Ahmadzai, Hamid Hassan, Karim Sadiq, Mirwais Ashraf, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Nasratullah Nasrat, Noor Ali, Raees Ahmadzai, Samiullah Shenwari, Shabir Noori, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Shapoor Zadran.

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