India vs Afghanistan 1st T20I: Preview and Prediction

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India to Face Afghanistan in the 1st T20I on January 11th

As the ICC Men’s T20I World Cup 2024 approaches, India is gearing up for a pivotal 3-match T20I series against Afghanistan, marking the inaugural white-ball bilateral contest between the two teams. Commencing on Thursday at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali, this series has taken centre stage, capturing the attention and excitement of eager Indian fans.

The Selection Committee’s bold move to reintroduce stalwarts Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli into the T20I squad has stirred a whirlwind of anticipation. Their absence from the 20-over format since their last appearance at Adelaide during the T20I World Cup 2022 has made their return a remarkable development. Adding to the intrigue, Rohit Sharma not only returns to the squad but also assumes the leadership role.

The absence of Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav, who admirably led the Indian Team in Rohit’s absence, is notable due to injuries. The selectors have also raised eyebrows by omitting Ishan Kishan and Ravindra Jadeja, opting instead for the inclusion of Sanju Samson, who makes a comeback to the squad.

On the other side of the pitch, the visiting Afghanistan team, under the captaincy of Ibrahim Zadran, braces itself for the series. With T20I captain Rashid Khan recovering from back surgery, Ibrahim steps into the leadership role while Rashid finds a place in the squad despite his ongoing rehabilitation. Notable inclusions such as Ikram Alikhil, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Gulbadin Naib further add depth to the Afghan lineup.

What have they done so far?

In the recent two months, India showcased their T20I prowess under the leadership of Suryakumar Yadav against Australia and South Africa. The home series against Australia concluded with India securing a 4-1 victory, with the only loss occurring in Guwahati.

India is currently the No. 1 T20I team in the ICC rankings

During the South Africa tour, the series kicked off with an abandoned match in Durban, followed by a 1-0 lead for Proteas in Gqeberha. India, however, bounced back, drawing the series 1-1 with a commanding 106-run win in the final T20I at Johannesburg.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan faced a challenging T20I series in Bangladesh in July, where the hosts swept the two-match series 2-0. Despite a close call in the first match, Bangladesh emerged victorious in a last-ball thriller, while the second match displayed a one-sided contest.

After a break from the T20I format, Afghanistan recently toured the UAE for a three-match series. The visitors claimed a comfortable 72-run victory in the first match, but UAE responded strongly, winning the second T20I by 11 runs. Afghanistan, however, clinched the series decider by securing a four-wicket win, heading into their upcoming series against India with high hopes and momentum.

Head to Head Record

In their limited encounters in T20Is, India and Afghanistan have engaged in five matches, with the Men in Blue emerging victorious in all four completed contests. Their head-to-head record stands at a commanding 4-0 in favor of India, with one match concluding without a result.

The last clash in a rain-free environment occurred during the ICC Men’s T20I Asia Cup in September 2022 in Dubai, where the Men in Blue convincingly triumphed with a resounding 101-run margin.

Key Players 

Virat Kohli (India): Virat Kohli, returning to the T20I format after a 14-month hiatus, is poised to captivate fans in the upcoming series. As the top run-scorer in Men’s T20I cricket, he boasts an impressive record of 4008 runs in 115 matches, flaunting a remarkable average of 52.73 and a strike rate of 137.96. Just 35 runs shy of the 12,000-run milestone in T20 cricket, Kohli’s prowess is eagerly anticipated.

Virat Kohli Currently Boasts 99 Fifty-Plus Scores in T20 Cricket

Notably, Kohli stands as India’s leading run-scorer against Afghanistan in T20Is, amassing 172 runs in two innings, including a memorable century during the Asia Cup 2022 and a half-century. Furthermore, his track record at Mohali is noteworthy, having played three T20I matches and emerged as the venue’s top run-getter with 156 runs at an equally impressive average.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz (Afghanistan): Rahmanullah Gurbaz, fresh from his maiden century against UAE, poses a formidable threat to the hosts with his power-hitting prowess, particularly in the Powerplay. The hard-hitting batsman’s diverse shot repertoire makes him a force to be reckoned with, as he aims to exploit the favorable batting conditions in Mohali.

Gurbaz’s stellar performance in 2023 positions him as the highest run-scorer from Afghanistan in T20Is, accumulating 268 runs in 10 matches at an average of 26.80 and a striking strike rate of 136.73, which stands as the second-best among his compatriots. 

Predicted Playing XIs

India: Rohit Sharma ©, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Tilak Varma, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma (wk),  Axar Patel, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan, Mukesh Kumar

Afghanistan: Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran ©, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Gulbadin Naib, Qais Ahmad, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi


With the prospect of early dew affecting the game, teams winning the toss will likely opt to bowl first, anticipating a pitch more conducive to batting during the second innings. The inherent uncertainties of a 20-over match notwithstanding, India holds a distinct advantage thanks to their extensive familiarity with home conditions, making them the favorites to claim a 1-0 lead in the series.

Nevertheless, the Afghanistan players’ notable experience in Indian conditions and their renowned fighting spirit present a factor that cannot be discounted. Their resilience and adaptability on the field could potentially challenge India’s expected dominance in the upcoming match.