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Key Moments In India's Big Win

By HARISH KOTIAN
November 04, 2021 10:22 IST
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India finally made its presence felt as the team thrashed Afghanistan by 66 runs on Wednesday to keep alive slim hopes of reaching the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals.

India suffered heavy losses to Pakistan and New Zealand in the first two Super 12 group matches before bouncing back with a dominating victory against a hapless Afghanistan.

Led by half-centuries from Openers Rohit Sharma and K L Rahul, India amassed a huge 210/2 before restricting their opponents to 144/7.

Harish Kotian picks the key moments in India's big win:

 

Rohit back as opener

Rohit Sharma

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma bats during the T20 World Cup match against Afghanistan at the Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images

India rectified their mistake from the previous game by bringing back Rohit Sharma at his best position in the batting order -- as opener.

The move to demote Rohit to No 3 and have Ishan Kishan open in his place against New Zealand backfired big time.

India went back to the trusted opening pairing of Rohit-Rahul for the must-win game against Afghanistan after partnerships of 1 and 11 against Pakistan and New Zealand respectively.

The two experienced players ensured they gave their team a good start when they needed it the most.

Rohit-Rahul make most of Powerplay

IMAGE: Ro and KL posted their fourth century stand in T20 Internationals. Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Rohit made his intent clear very early when he hit off-spinner Mohammad Nabi for a boundary in the first over and swept left-arm spinner Sharafuddin Ashraf for another four in the next over.

Rahul also got going early, hitting Ashraf for a six and a four in the second over.

Rohit was keen to keep the momentum going. Pace bowler Naveen-ul Haq suffered at the hands of India's vice-captain, who smashed him for a couple of fours and a six in the fifth over.

Even though Hamid Hassan conceded just six runs in the sixth over, India were off to a flying start as they raced to 53 for no loss in the Powerplay.

Rohit raced to fifty from 37 balls before his partner brought up the pair's fourth T20I century stand in the 12th over with a pulled six off pacer Naveen.

The Rohit-Rahul partnership took the game away from Afghanistan as they smashed 140 runs for the opening wicket from 88 balls.

India's batsmen hit Rashid out of the park

After India were off to a quickfire, Afghanistan's hopes were in hands of Rashid Khan, one of the best spinners in T20 cricket.

However, he had no chance against the aggressive Indian batting line-up. Rohit showed his class as he hit Rashid for back-to-back sixes in the 14th over. The bowler finished with expensive figures of 36 runs in his four overs.

Timely promotions of Pant and Pandya

IMAGE: Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya added 63 in 21 balls to power India to 210/2 in 20 overs. Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

Captain Virat Kohli came in for criticism after changes in the batting order in the previous match. But against Afghanistan, he got his tactics bang on with timely promotions of big-hitters Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya.

Pant and Pandya provided the late fireworks, adding 63 in 21 balls to take India to 210/2 in their 20 overs, the highest score of the tournament so far.

Pant was promoted to No 3 as India looked to continue attacking the Afghanistan bowlers. Having survived leg before wicket reviews from consecutive deliveries off Rashid, he made the most by hitting pace bowler Gulbadin Naib for consecutive sixes straight down the ground to put India on course for a huge total.

Pandya, who put down by Najibullah Zadran at mid-off, also made Afghanistan pay. He hit fast bowler Hamid for three boundaries in the 18th over followed by two huge sixes off Naveen in the next over, to take India past 200.

Courtesy Pant and Pandya's fireworks, India smashed 68 runs from the last five overs. Pant stroked 27 from 13 balls, while Pandya hammered 35 from the same number of deliveries.

Early wickets with the new ball

IMAGE: India's players celebrate a wicket during the T20 World Cup match against Afghanistan. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images

Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah struck early with the new ball to give India a perfect start with the ball.

Shami got Mohammad Shahzad caught off a leading edge for a duck in his second over while Bumrah dismissed Hazratullah Zazai for 13 in the next over.

Shami though suffered as Rahmanullah Gurbaz hit him for two sixes and as many fours in his third over. But Ravindra Jadeja checked Afghanistan's charge as he took the wicket of the impressive Gurbaz in the sixth over.

Ashwin's smashing comeback

Ravichandran Ashwin put in a superb performance with the ball in his first T20 International for India in four years.

Introduced in the eighth over, Ashwin started off with a tidy over, conceding just two runs before he got Gulbadin leg before wicket for 18 in his second over -- his first wicket in T20 Internationals in five years.

Ashwin's experience proved to be too hot to hand for Afghanistan. The veteran spinner cleaned up Najibullah Zadran, who tried the reverse sweep but missed the ball completely.

It was a dream comeback for Ashwin, who finished with 2/14, including 12 dot balls.

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HARISH KOTIAN / Rediff.com

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