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India vs Afghanistan: Experienced hosts to keep Test debutants at bay
Men in Blue are missing some key players but should still be too strong
India's Cheteshwar Pujara can put Afghanistan to the sword in Bengaluru. (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
India vs Afghanistan Test Match Preview & Betting Tips
India host Afghanistan in the historic debut Test for the visitors at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. The Afghans have a bunch of exciting names from franchise T20 cricket and India are missing some regular players, but the hosts should be able to avoid an upset.
The hosts will miss the services of regular skipper Virat Kohli, who was listed to play county cricket before he got injured. The team is still strong, led by Ajinkya Rahane who averages 43.68 from 44 Tests.
It will be the runs of Test-specialist Cheteswar Pujara that will be vital as he looks to add to his 4496 runs from 57 Tests. There is enough experience elsewhere, with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, and Murali Vijay adding depth to the batting.
Bowling duties will be led by the ever-hungry Ravichandran Ashwin who has an astonishing 220 wickets in just 35 home Tests. Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma and Kuldeep Yadav beef up the bowling attack.
There is no doubt that the Afghanistan team is the toast of world cricket. The way they have put behind their struggles in a war-torn nation and grew from playing in refugee camps to various cricket destinations is a story for the romantics.
However, all that will take a backseat as the real journey starts here. They have some decent batsmen including Mohammad Shahzad who has 1582 runs from 20 first-class matches and captain Asghar Stanikzai with 1421 runs from 23 matches.
Bowling will be about the magic of Rashid Khan, who has played just four first-class matches for 35 wickets. His pedigree in T20 cricket and experience of playing in Indian conditions will be crucial in transitioning to the red-ball.
The last time India donned the Test whites was in a close-fought series in South Africa that they lost 2-1. Their last home stint was in November-December 2017 when they defeated Sri Lanka 1-0 in a three-match series.
Afghanistan are fresh from a 3-0 sweep of Bangladesh in a T20I series played in Dehradun. Their last first-class effort was in December 2017 when they won the ICC Intercontinental Cup at Abu Dhabi winning 6 of the 7 matches.
- India have won 7 and drawn 3 of their last 12 Tests.
- India have won 20 and drawn 6 of their last 27 home Tests.
- India have won 3 and drawn 3 in 6 Tests at this venue.
- India have won 2 and drawn 1 against opponents making their Test debut.
- Cheteshwar Pujara has 5 50+ scores in his last 9 home innings.
Afghanistan have a lot of exciting players in their mix and India are missing some of their key personnel. That shouldn’t be sufficient for an upset as an experienced Indian side can stop the Afghans.
There could be some nerves for the Afghan batsmen against the Indian attack and that could mean no fifties in the first innings for them. On the contrary, the solid Cheteshwar Pujara looks set to continue his romance with home Test fifties.
Best Bet: Cheteswar Pujara to Score a Fifty in the Match @ 1.61
Team Batsman to Score a Fifty in 1st Innings: Afghanistan No @ 4.50