SOUTHAMPTON, June 21 (Agencies): An injury-hit India take on minnows Afghanistan in the World Cup 2019 clash at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Saturday.
Rishabh Pant, who was designated as Team India reserve, made it to the squad following opener Shikhar Dhawan's injury and could add firepower to the side's batting line-up.
Bottom-placed Afghanistan, on the other hand, have larger problems to deal with after their coach Phil Simmons indicated via a tweet that he will reveal chief selector Dawlat Ahmadzai's role in the removal of Asghar Afghan as skipper in the 11th hour and the effect of his actions on the team's preparation for the World Cup 2019.
Afghanistan's controversial campaign, marred by poor on and off-field decisions, has gone from bad to worse. They now face the onerous task of squaring off against a galaxy of world class players, whose performance graph is on the upswing.
India is one team that endured tougher matches right at the beginning and Virat Kohli's men have looked quite invincible in their one-sided wins against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan.
Skipper Virat Kohli hit two half-centuries against Australia and Pakistan with such ease that the at least the first 35 runs in both the innings were scored before one even realised.
Against Afghanistan, Mohammed Shami will get his first game in the tournament and his pace and movement could be more than a handful for the likes of Hazratullah Zazai, Hashmatullah Shahidi or Asghar Afghan.
Squads: India: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Afghanistan: Gulbadin Naib (capt), Aftab Alam, Hazratullah Zazai, Asghar Afghan, Rashid Khan, Mohammed Nabi, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Dawlat Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Samiullah Shinwari, Rahmat Shah, Noor Ali Zadran, Ikram Alikhil.
Meanwhile, West Indies face a do-or-die battle against a confident-looking New Zealand in a crucial ICC World Cup 2019 tie in Manchester on Saturday.
The West Indies started their World Cup campaign with a bang, demolishing Pakistan by seven wickets. But since then, things have gone from bad to worse for the Caribbeans and they have suffered three defeats (against Australia, England and Bangladesh) while the game against South Africa was washed out.
The West Indies are currently lying seventh in the 10-team standings with just three points in their kitty and they can't afford any further loss to stay in the mix for a semifinal spot.
The Kiwis, on the other hand, are sitting pretty at the second spot with nine points, which includes four wins out of five games with the match against India being washed out. New Zealand have so far defeated Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and South Africa but their real test starts now as after West Indies, they will have three tough encounters against Pakistan, Australia and England.
Squads: New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell (wk), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee (vc), Ross Taylor
West Indies: Jason Holder (c), Evin Lewis, Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas, Shai Hope (wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Fabien Allen, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Ashley Nurse
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