- Afghanistan would be relishing the spin friendly conditions in India and shall be playing on their strengths
- Rashid Khan would be a tough bowler to play against on a rough surface and he turns the odds in favor of Afghanistan
- West Indies have had a poor record in the sub-continent and have won only once in their last 10 Test Matches in the sub-continent
The ODI and the T20 Series now over, Afghanistan and West Indies would now lock horns in the only Test Match of the series. It was a spirited comeback from the Afghan boys in the last two games of the T20 series to win it 2-1 after having lost the ODI series 3-0. With the change in format the two sides would be tested in the five day format of the game. This would be the first Test Match ever for the two sides and is expected to be an interesting one given how the two sides are well-matched in terms of their skills and experience.
Afghanistan has done well in its limited appearances in Test cricket. After losing their debut game against India last year the side has won two consecutive games. Their last win against Bangladesh would have boosted the confidence of the side going into the Test Match. West Indies on the other hand come into this game having suffered back to back losses against India at home and will have to recover from that low to win this one. It will be a test of the batting line-up for both the sides as both the teams boast of having good bowling attacks.
Rashid Khan would be a confident man going into this Test Match after the turnaround his side made in the T20 series. It will be a different ball game but the side is expected to carry confidence into the game. Openers Ibrahim Zadran and Javed Ahmadi will need to tackle the new ball attack well as this is where the West Indians are strong. The middle order has good experience with Rahmat Shah, Asghar Afghan and Afsar Zazai in the side. This is where the side will have to build partnerships and put pressure on the opponents. Yamin Ahmadzai and Dawlat Zadran will need to do well with the new ball for the team. Rashid Khan has the most important role to play and the side will depend on him to make use of the spin friendly conditions and win the game. Zia-ur-Rehman the young left arm spinner might debut and it will be interesting to see how he faces the challenge.
It will be an understatement to say that Jason Holder is under pressure to deliver. He was stripped off his leadership role in the limited overs formats and this Test Match would be a big challenge for him after the loss at home against the Indians. The opening pair of Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell needs to deliver after their recent run of poor form. Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks and Roston Chase will need to hold the batting together and build partnerships against the spin web that Afghans are likely to throw at them. Holder with his vast experience will need to play well with the lower order. On the bowling front Holder has to lead the attack well with Kemar Roach. How they make use of the new ball may decide the game. Rahkeem Cornwall shall have to use the conditions well against a side that is known for playing spinners well.
The pitch is expected to be a good one to bat on the first two days and shall start breaking down from Day 3 onward. Batting on this wicket would be a challenge in the 4th innings and we expect the side winning the toss to bat first on this surface.
PITCH AND WEATHER CONDITIONS
Lucknow is known for being a typical sub-continental wicket and we expect this one to be a rank turner. There may be some grass on the surface that would offer assistance to the fast bowlers early in on Day 1 but batting would be easy on this surface during the post lunch and tea session. We expect the ball to start turning sharply from Day 3 which is something the Afghan spinners would love. The track might turn into a minefield in the latter half of the game. The weather is expected to remain clear and dry on all five days of the game. The temperature would be comfortable with the mercury touching 27° C on the higher side. Humidity would be around the 50% mark during the game.
In terms of experience the Afghan side is the newest kid in the block as far as Test Cricket is concerned. But they have the resources to pick 20 wickets and win Test Matches as they have already shown. On the other hand the West Indian side has been unable to maintain its consistency in this format and hasn’t been able to get their team combination right. They are likely to struggle against the Afghan spinners on this surface. While it is a close call between the two sides which have their respective strengths given the fact that the conditions are likely to assist the spinners the Afghans would start with their nose ahead in the game.