Dhaka:: All but eliminated from the race to final, a demoralised India would look to sign off their disastrous Asia Cup campaign on a positive note when they take on spirited debutantes Afghanistan in their last round-robin league match on Wednesday.
Hit hard by successive defeats, India will be eyeing win over Afghanistan before ICC World Twenty20 begins from next Sunday. 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.
Four-time champions Sri Lanka and defending champion Pakistan already have sealed their final berth.
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.
They have a potent pace attack in the Zadran duo of Shapoor and Dawlat and the left-right combination bring in the variety to fast bowling.
Spin department also has the variety in the trio of skipper Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari and Hamza Hotak.
Nabi gets vicious turn with his off-spin, while Shenwari has that acute leg-breaks making the duo the team's principal wicket-taking spinners. Left-armer Hotak has also done well to restrict the flow of runs at one end, conceding runs at 4.04 from three matches.
Bubbling with enthusiasm, Afghanistan announced their arrival at the big stage when they downed Bangladesh by 32 runs for their maiden victory against a Test-playing nation after four matches.
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.
One of the big positives for India in this tournament has been tweaker Amit Mishra who has reinvented himself to give bite to the innocuous spin attack.
In contrast, R Ashwin's regular experimentation with his action and variety has started to hurt India's cause. Mishra's inclusion against Pakistan suddenly brought a fresh lease of life.
Playing his first International match after four months, Mishra almost brought Pakistan's downfall taking a tidy 2/28 from his quota before Shahid Afridi smashed two sixes off Ashwin to clinch a one-wicket thriller.
In the pace department, Mohammed Shami after his emergence in the national scene from nowhere, has begun to look jaded while Bhuvneshwar Kumar has never looked menacing for the opposition.
Afghanistan's inexperienced batting once again proved to be their bane when they were bundled out for 124 in pursuit of Sri Lanka's 254 on Monday.
But the spirited Afghanistan would not be short on motivation especially after their landmark victory over Bangladesh that has helped them break into the one-day rankings table.
With 32 rating points, 12th placed Afghanistan would have the chance to leapfrog Ireland (38) with another win.
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 (captain), 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
Wednesday March 6, 2014 (day/night)
Start time 1400 local (0800 GMT, 1.30pm IST)