IND vs AFG | Biting cold, chilly winds and dew-soaked outfield await series-opener

Rashid back in the mix following a lower-back surgery and Afghanistan has reasons to believe that it has the ammunition to do well in the shortest format of the game

Updated - January 10, 2024 06:55 pm IST

Published - January 09, 2024 11:37 pm IST - MOHALI

Freezing feeling: Rashid and his teammates have had to endure a disconcerting climate in Mohali.

Freezing feeling: Rashid and his teammates have had to endure a disconcerting climate in Mohali. | Photo Credit: PTI

Biting cold and chilly breeze failed to deter the Afghanistan cricketers from opting for a lengthy net session at the PCA ground here on Tuesday.

No doubt, the Afghans are well equipped to deal with these conditions back home but discomfort was writ large on the faces of many players. With single-digit temperatures prevailing for the better part of 24 hours and the icy winds making matters worse, their plight was understandable.

Once the action moved from stretching and catching at the ground to bowling and batting in an enclosed ‘net’ area, the players appeared at ease. Mercifully, given the itinerary of the series, the caravan will travel to Indore and Bangalore, cities where the winter is far less severe.

Unlike India, Afghanistan has warmed up for this series by expectedly scoring a 2-1 series win over host United Arab Emirates. With the T20 World Cup in June being the focus, Afghanistan is here to make the most of this opportunity and pull off a surprise.

Following its impressive showing in the recent World Cup — the stunning wins over England and Pakistan being the high points — Afghanistan has reasons to believe that it has the ammunition to do even better in the shortest format of the game.

A team with fearless batters at the top and an impressive number of all-rounders, Afghanistan’s chances of winning or causing upsets are most in this format. The enhanced self-belief and newly-gained reputation in white-ball cricket should give Afghans hope of upstaging India that has a rusty top-order.

Remember, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli did not play a single T20 match in 2023. Their last appearance was against England in the World Cup semifinals that India lost by 10 wickets at Adelaide in November 2022.

Another factor that should help Afghanistan’s confidence is the return of Rashid Khan following a lower-back surgery in November. Since Rashid has neither played a T20 since July 2023 and nor a game following the surgery, it remains to be seen how he turns up.

A 7 p.m. start here could well mean the onset of dew dictating the course of the innings. In the given conditions, toss could become a decisive factor.

In any case, dew-soaked outfield will make life a little more difficult for the fielding team.

On Wednesday, the Indian team will have nets under lights and gauge the conditions.

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