IND vs AFG, 1st T20I: India Opt to Bowl As Spirited Afghans Seek Maiden Win vs Men in Blue

Mohali: In a much-anticipated clash at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali today, the Indian cricket team, led by Captain Rohit Sharma, is gearing up to face Ibrahim Zadran’s Afghanistan for the first T20 international match of their three-match series. This marks the first-ever bilateral series between the two cricketing nations.

Prior to this series, India played a T20I series against South Africa in December 2023, concluding with a 1-1 tie as one match was affected by rain. Meanwhile, Afghanistan emerged victorious in their last T20I series against the United Arab Emirates, winning 2-1.

Looking ahead, India will face Ireland in their opening game at the 2024 T20 World Cup in less than five months. Despite the upcoming IPL, the three-match series against Afghanistan serves as India’s sole T20I assignment in the interim. Notably, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli make a return to the T20I squad for the first time since the 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final loss to England. However, Kohli will be absent from Thursday’s game due to personal reasons.

Afghanistan, buoyed by their progress in the 2023 ODI World Cup, are eager to capitalize on the momentum. With nine T20Is scheduled before the T20 World Cup, they aim to solidify their first-choice XI, providing ample time for team cohesion and adjustments if needed. Despite Rashid Khan’s absence due to ongoing recovery from back surgery, Ibrahim Zadran will lead the side.

The Afghan squad faced a minor hiccup last month when Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq, and Mujeeb Ur Rahman expressed a desire to be released from their central contracts for franchise cricket. However, all three players have now returned to the national team, expected to play pivotal roles in the upcoming series.

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