By Rex Clementine
A country with just 439 square kilometers and a population of 280,000, you just envy and marvel the cricketing talent that tiny Caribbean island Barbados has produced over the years. Garry Sobers, Wesley Hall, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge and the Three Ws are all men of this isle.
It is to Barbados the focus of cricketing world turns to the next few days as several Super Eight group matches and the final will be worked off here.
The first of those Super Eight games takes place on Thursday when India take on Afghanistan in a day game.
Afghanistan had an impressive start to their campaign, but their confidence was shattered in their last group game when West Indies thrashed them.
India of course are yet to lose a game in this competition having cruised to the second round although their batters haven’t fired on all cylinders as yet.
The wickets in United States tested India’s free flowing batters, but the Caribbean will be a different preposition with high scoring games expected.
Virat Kohli is yet to reach double figures in the tournament. After four games, he has managed just five runs and India will be hoping that their star batter fires leading up to the business end of the competition.
Jasprit Bumrah bowled some unplayable deliveries in the tournament and the former champions will be hoping that he keeps producing those match winning spells.
India haven’t won an ICC event since 2011 although they have reached the finals on a few occasions. Getting to another final will be their main goal and then with a bit of luck they can go over the line.
Afghanistan were said to be dark horses in the competition. Although they knocked off New Zealand in the first round, their 104-run loss to hosts West Indies in St. Lucia has not only cast doubts but dented confidence too.
Captain Rashid Khan going wicketless in his last two games must be some concern for the Afghan camp. All-rounder Azmatullah Omarzai also lacked rhythm in his last game with his two overs costing 41 runs. Since the Afghans have plenty of cover in the bowling department, they will be tempted to bring in a specialist batter given their batting was a flop in the last game.
Top order batter Hazratullah Zazai, who is known for his big hitting skills has been drafted into the squad in place of injured spin bowler Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, and if he plays the game that will be quite a treat to watch.