The stature of Afghanistan Cricket has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. And, here they are making their Test debut in a couple of days at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. In the lead-up to the fixture, let's take a look at India's potential XI for the Afghanistan Test.
In Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan, India has two solid Test openers who complement each other well. Both were not up to the mark at South Africa earlier this year but would want to register scores here before heading to England next month.
Cheteshwar Pujara has the additional responsibility in the absence of skipper Virat Kohli to steer the middle-order. Playing for Yorkshire, Pujara had an ordinary time at the County Championship but made the most of List A games of Royal London One Day Cup to get in the groove.
In the form of his life, KL Rahul fills in the big #4 slot of Captain Kohli. Rahul looked in ominous touch in the recently concluded IPL – piling on 659 runs in 14 outings.
The captain, Ajinkya Rahane slots in at 5. Not been at his best in the 5-day game in the last few apperances, Rahane would look to get among the runs against an inexperienced bowling attack of Afghanistan.
Dinesh Karthik earned Test call-up after regular keeper Wriddhiman Saha was sidelined. The wicket-keeper batsman had a successful IPL season and it would be no surprise if he piles a big score on his comeback.
In the limited opportunities thus far, Hardik Pandya has put on display his all-round abilities in the red-ball game. Apart from the fifth bowler role, he is more than a handy batsman lower down the order.
Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, ranked no.4 and no.5 in the ICC's Bowling Rankings respectively, are India's first choice spinners.
Keeping in mind M Chinnaswamy's spinning track, the Chinamen bowler Kuldeep might make the cut.
Ishant Sharma, after a successful county stint with Sussex, slots in the side as a lone genuine fast bowler. India's most capped player in the lineup would want to make the most of this opportunity to make a case for the England Test series.