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Cricket news - Smog-filled Lucknow provides chance for fresh starts
The Ekana International Cricket Stadium in Lucknow is set to host its second-ever international match when Afghanistan take on West Indies. The only hindrance to the first of three ODIs, however, is the smog that has enveloped Lucknow in the last week or so.
Despite a couple of training sessions being impacted as a result, the game is touted to go ahead as scheduled, which will mark the beginning of a new chapter for both Afghanistan and West Indies.
For starters, both teams endured underwhelming campaigns at the World Cup and under new ODI skippers in Rashid Khan and Kieron Pollard respectively, will be aiming to move forward from the low returns. Phil Simmons has been re-handed the reigns of a West Indian side whose captain will play his first ODI in three years, while Lance Klusener, Afghanistan's new head coach, will look to translate potential to performance.
Rashid made a stellar start to his captaincy tenure after being handed the reins across formats with an impressive win over Bangladesh, which was their first in Test cricket. He then led Afghanistan to wins over Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in the tri-series, and will now make his debut as ODI skipper.
The last time that the sides met at the World Cup, Afghanistan fell 23 short of West Indies' 312. Finishing without a single win in the tournament, it would do Afghanistan's confidence a world of good if they can manage to start the series off on a winning note against a new-look West Indies.
Two wins at the World Cup and subsequent losses at home to India across formats in all the completed games, saw Pollard being handed the limited-overs captaincy - his first full-time stint as skipper, having had led the side for two games in 2013. Also playing a game in the 50-over format after six years, Pollard will have more on his plate than just lead the side to a winning start. And the fact that Afghanistan have three world-class spinners in their ranks won't make it a walk in the park.
When: November 6, 2019; 2:00 PM IST
Where: The Ekana International Cricket Stadium, Lucknow
What to expect: The rise in the pollution levels - which even hampered practice sessions of the two teams - has reduced visibility to just about 100m. And with no rain predicted, it's touted to cause the players trouble. The Delhi T20I went on as scheduled, but there were reports of a few players having had vomited during the course of it. In a game that is due to last much longer than that, how the players will be affected will be left to see. It will also be a track that assists spin, of which Afghanistan have plenty.
They will more likely than not play three spinners. Hashmatullah Shahidi, Noor Ali Zadran and Samiullah Shinwari were left out for the ODIs.
Squad: Rashid Khan (c), Asghar Afghan, Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmat Shah, Javed Ahmadi, Afsar Zazai, Gulbadin Naib, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Karim Janat, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Ibrahim Zadran, Yamin Ahmadzai, Naveen-ul-Haq, Ikram Alikhil, Mujeeb ur Rahman
Potential ODI debuts await Brandon King and Romario Shepherd, while Alzarri Joseph makes a comeback. And with Gayle, Roach, Brathwaite and Fabian Allen not making the squad, West Indies will play a very different XI from the one that featured in the one against India.
Squad: Kieron Pollard (c), Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Sunil Ambris, Nicholas Pooran, Brandon King, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Hayden Walsh Jr., Khary Pierre, Sheldon Cottrell, Keemo Paul, Romario Shepherd, Alzarri Joseph
What they said:
"We are not big in size but we hit big sixes. We have the Afghani power and this boundary will also be small for us. But we will have to play smart cricket and not focus much on big shots. Because on such big ground, you have to play smart cricket," - Rashid Khan.
It is an important series as the coach has mentioned. All cricket is important for us. As a team, we have made some changes and are looking forward to doing well in the series." - Kieron Pollard
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