India will have to quickly decide on their team combination as they launch their ICC World Twenty20 campaign against minnows Afghanistan in Colombo on Wednesday, hoping to get into the groove for the tougher battles ahead.
A win will ensure a Super Eights berth for champions of the 2007edition even before they take on England in their second and final group league match on September 23.
In their only meeting till date, India had comfortably beaten Afghanistan by seven wickets during the last edition of World T20 in the West Indies.
While the battle of attrition will start once India take on England, a smooth start against the Afghans will certainly help the `Men in Blue` hit a good rhythm and the team management will have an idea about the performance of their preferred combination.
The Indians are faced with the dilemma of whether to go in with five specialist bowlers or opt for the additional batsman, considering that bowling in the death overs has been a worry.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is not someone who is known to tinker with the playing XI and believes in giving his preferred players a long rope. In fact, he has indicated that he would go in with four specialist bowlers and rely on his part-timers to fill in the fifth bowler`s quota.
But if the part-timers do not perform upto expectation, he is willing to go in with five specialist bowlers.
The batting order looks more or less settled with seasoned opening pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, solid middle-order consisting of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni himself, it will be interesting to see what kind of bowling combination Dhoni-Fletcher pair use.
Due to the absence of big names, the unity of the Afghani contingent has always been their big strength. Keeping the format of T20 in mind , the shortest format, this would possibly enable them to shock a few big teams.
The presence of Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali would strengthen the batting department. Karim Sadiq and Javed Ahmadi would lend a lot of stability and balance at the top.
In-form Dawlat Zardan will play a very crucial role as he is looked at as someone who will provide the early breakthrough.
Samiullah Shenwani and Shapoor Zardan will also have to play crucial roles for the success of Afghanistan. The trump card for the Afghans will be their talismanic all-rounder Mohammed Nabi.
India Squad: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary, Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Piyush Chawla, Harbhajan Singh, Ashok Dinda.
Afghanistan Squad: Nawroz Mangal (capt), Asghar Stanikzai, Dawlat Zadran, Gulbodin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Izatullah Dawlatzai, Javed Ahmadi, Karim Sadiq, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shahzad, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nasim Baras, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah, Shapoor Zadran.