Hit hard by successive defeats, India will be eyeing a bonus point win over Afghanistan to boost their sagging morale in what has been a depressing campaign for the record five-time champions. (JPN/Agencies)
India's minuscule chances of making the final hinge on bizarre arithmetical equations. Virat Kohli's men would have to get past Pakistan in net run-rate so as to make the final, a situation which will only arise if Bangladesh managed to beat Pakistan in their last match.
Four-time champions Sri Lanka have already sealed their final berth cruising to a third consecutive win, this time with a bonus point against Afghanistan last night.
But it's not going to be easy for the Indians who look vulnerable without regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni as that winning edge has been missing from the side.
The batting has centered around Kohli as none of the other batsmen have shown the temperament to stay at the crease and go all the way.
For a team that relies on its batting prowess, it is proving to be the difference between a victory and loss.
It will be once again a test of the Indian batting against minnows Afghanistan who have been a revelation in this tournament putting up an impressive show especially with their pace bowling.
Afghanistan's bowlers would look to primarily target Kohli.
A level of mediocrity has descended on the Indian side after drawing a blank in the tours of South Africa and New Zealand.
Kohli's aggressive captaincy has brought in the spark in the Indian side but unfortunately it has not been translated into wins, barring against Bangladesh in their first match.
Leading from the front, Kohli slammed 136 to help India recover from a jittery start and set up an easy six wicket win against Bangladesh. Since then, Kohli has not been able to put up big runs and India have lost on both occasions.
The Indian specialist batsmen in Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu have shown spark with half-centuries but their failure to make it big have proved to be the difference.
It's important for the Indian team to end the tournament on a positive note as they would return to the same country in less than fortnight's time for the World Twenty20 Championship.
India would play two warm-up fixtures against Sri Lanka and England on March 17 and 19 respectively before beginning their World T20 campaign against Pakistan at the same venue on March 21.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Cheteshwar Pujara, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron and Ishwar Pandey.
Afghanistan: Mohammad Nabi (c), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zardan, Asghar Stanikzai, Nawroj Mangal, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zardan, Mirwais Ashraf, Hamza Hotak, Dawlat Zardan, Shapoor Zardan, Hamid Hassan, Karim Sadiq, Rahmat Shah, Fazal Niazai.
Hit hard by successive defeats, India will be eyeing a bonus point win over Afghanistan to boost their sagging morale in what has been a depressing campaign for the record five-time champions.