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Under-fire India face Afghan test

Under-fire India face Afghan test
Still looking to get their playing combination in order, an under-fire India will be looking for resurrection against first-timers Afghanistan in their final warm-up game before the World Cup here on Tuesday. India’s preparations for the 50-over showpiece event suffered a jolt yesterday as Australia thrashed the defending champions by 106 runs at the Adelaide Oval.

If the bowling continued to falter by conceding 371 runs against the hosts, the batsmen did no better as they wobbled to 265 in 45.1 overs. The Indian bowling has come under intense criticism after its below-par showing in the 0-2 defeat in the four-match Test series and its failure to win a single ODI in the tri-series.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s own form is also a cause for concern for the Men in Blue after he scored a duck in the first practice match. A spate of injuries to Ishant Sharma, who failed a fitness Test and has been replaced by Mohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rohit Sharma and the top-order’s patchy batting form has made things difficult for India. Putting up a brave face after the loss against Australia, Dhoni still tried to take out some positives from the game but the team’s on-field performances surely is a cause for concern for the 2011 champions.

Afghanistan, on the other hand, are a side hungry to make an impact in their maiden 50-over World Cup outing. Led by the experienced Mohammad Nabi, the side boasts of some impactful players like left-arm pacer Shapoor Zadran, young pacer Aftab Alam and former skipper and solid middle-order batsman Nawroz Mangal to name a few. The team that only got full one-day status in 2011 is dreaming big and Nabi claims that the side will be no pushovers in the 11th edition of the Cup. “We have been working hard for the past 4-5 months and our aim is to get to the next stage. We are all excited as a unit and hopefully we can live up to the expectations of our fans back home,” said Nabi on the sidelines of the team’s net session. While Afghanistan start campaign against Bangladesh on February 18, India start their title defence against arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday.
IANS

IANS

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