Dominant India will look to have a comfortable outing against Afghanistan. There is a bit of contrast between Afghanistan’s cricket team and their futsal side, that has taken the internet by storm after their heroics against Indonesia. Afghanistan have set up a clash against formidable Japan in the final of the AFC Futsal U-20 Championship and after the victory, the futsal players took to the social media to ask fans to pray for their success. There is a bit of activity in the social media by the cricket team too, but the posts have had more debilitating than positive impact on the morale of the side. The coach, captain and the selectors… they don’t seem to be on the same page. Notoriously it has become a team of conspiracy theories with tales of discontent, disquiet and disturbances emanating from their dressing room. Suddenly, the Afghan team that was so loved by the cricket world not too long ago and that was expected to surprise a few Big Boys in the Big World Cup League, have come the most appalling cropper. Five defeats in five games need no emphasis of the pounding they have got from the competing teams so far and today the script is unlikely to be different. The last time India played Afghanistan, the game had ended in an exciting tie. For a team that is down in the pits in the World Cup, that Asia Cup game in Dubai last September may not be a bad thing to draw inspiration from, but the grains of sands of the Dubai desert would tell a different tale now. Since arriving here in England for the World Cup, India have been like a sledgehammer that is looking for the nails. Stranger things, sure, have happened in the game of cricket but Virat Kohli’s men have been an inexhaustible force with no perceptible weaknesses. South Africa, Australia and Pakistan should testify for this. New Zealand would feel lucky that they have escaped a pounding. ‘New day, new game and new opponent’ is the oft-repeated refrain from the captains that are coming from a series of defeats, but Gulbadin Naib conceded that India will be a difficult proposition at the Ageas Bowl here on Saturday. “Obviously, India is not like an easy side. So India is obviously one of the best teams now and high ranking team. So we’re just focusing on our cricket. India is a very tough team. So they’re not giving us — they will be coming very hard,” the Afghanistan skipper said. The Afghan team takes heart from the fact that they could manage to put up a fight against England in Manchester despite conceding 397 runs and losing the game by 150 runs. They were 251for 8 in response to England’s 397 for 6. “We played out 50 overs,” Naib said looking at the positives from the previous game. India will do well to be wary of a certain player called Rashid Khan, the one who has been a sensation in the IPL with his fast leg-spinners and wrong-’uns. Equally qualitative is Mohammad Nabi, the experienced offie. But for India though, it will be another day in the office. The approach has been to focus on the process and be unmindful of the quality of the opposition – be it Afghanistan or Australia. “No, it’s not about against whom we’re playing. I think it’s about how we play as individuals. As I said earlier, we always look to get better, even when we get to practice session. That is the only motive that we have. So, we’ll just look to get better. So it doesn’t matter against whom we’re playing. It’s just about how we play against each and every individual. It should be the same,” Vijay Shankar said of the team’s outlook towards today’s game. India’s top-order has been on a roll and the middle-order has been building on the solid foundation. The fast bowlers have shown an impeccable sense of discipline while the spinners have been incisive. The fielding too has been impressive. The only worry for India has been the injuries. Yesterday, the team did not give indications of the line-up for the morrow but most likely it would be the same XI, with Mohammed Shami in place of injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Vijay Shankar had suffered an injury on his toes in the nets a couple of days ago but the player himself said yesterday that he is fit to take field, should he be taken in the XI. What about Rishabh Pant? It looks like he may have to wait longer for his turn.