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T20 World Cup: India trounce Afghanistan for first win

Last updated on: November 03, 2021 23:51 IST
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Images from the T20 World Cup Super 12s match between India and Afghanistan, in Abu Dhabi, on Wednesday.

Rohit Sharma was India's top-scorer, hitting 8 fours and 3 sixes in a 47-ball 74, during the T20 World Cup Super 12s match against Afghanistan, at Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi, on Wednesday.

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma was India's top-scorer, hitting 8 fours and 3 sixes in a 47-ball 74, during the T20 World Cup Super 12s match against Afghanistan, at Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi, on Wednesday. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images

Rohit Sharma brought his carefree elegance to the table, and K L Rahul was classy as ever, as India proved too good for Afghanistan in their must-win Super 12s match of the T20 World Cup, in Abu Dhabi, on Wednesday.

While they still have to bear the criticism of having flattered to deceive against Pakistan and New Zealand, Rohit (74 off 47 balls) and Rahul (69 off 48 balls) made a mockery of Afghanistan's inexperienced attack, putting up a record 140 runs for the opening stand, as India put posted an imposing 210 for 2.

 

In reply, Afghanistan could score just 143 for 7 and India won by 66 runs to register their first victory after two defeats to keep their hopes of making it to the semi-finals alive.

This was India's highest total in this edition of the T20 World Cup, but they can only hope it hasn't come two matches too late.

With their net run-rate finally entering the positive bracket (+0.073), India can now hope that Afghanistan recovers from this drubbing and upset New Zealand, which will give Virat Kohli's men an outside chance of qualifying for the semi-finals behind Pakistan, who are set to top the group.

Save Rashid Khan, who was thrashed by Rohit in his third over, the other Afghans were pedestrian at best, leaving Hardik Pandya (35 not out off 13 balls) and Rishabh Pant (27 not out off 13 balls) to feast during the 'death' overs.

The Pandya-Pant duo clobbered 63 runs in 3.3 overs to take swell the total beyond Afghanistan's reach.

India opener K L Rahul plays a shot as Afghanistan's Mohammad Shahzad looks on.

IMAGE: India opener K L Rahul plays a shot as Afghanistan's Mohammad Shahzad looks on. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images

The mid-130s speed of the pacers and lack of swing, with not much pace off the track, was an ideal recipe for disaster against the two Indian openers who were smarting from back-to-back failures.

On a track where the ball was gripping, Afghanistan captain Mohammed Nabi started with his off-breaks and introduced left-arm spinner Sharafuddin Ashraf from the other end.

For Rohit and Rahul, who needed a few big shots to get into the groove, there couldn't have been a more mouth-watering offering. The former was the first one off the blocks with an inside-out lofted boundary over extra-cover off Nabi and a lap-shot off Sharafuddin.

Rohit Sharma

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma brought up his 23rd T20 half-century with the eighth boundary of his innings at the start of the 12 over. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images

When pacer Naveen ul Haq was introduced, Rohit opened his stance to slash the bowler past point and hit a straight six, while Rahul also got his share of boundaries.

The 50 of the innings came in five overs, but it was veteran pacer Hamid Hasan, who bowled the last over of the Powerplay to put a brief slowdown on scoring during that phase after the fielding restrictions were lifted.

However, the good start meant that 85 came off the first 10 overs, with both openers looking solid for acceleration towards the back-10.

One of the better boundaries from Rohit was the one which he guided a Gulbadin Naib delivery towards third-man fence, using the bounce to inch towards his half-century.

The 23rd T20 International fifty came when he square-cut an off-colour Naveen to the boundary, and Rahul followed suit with a six over square leg off the same bowler and then lofted Gulbadin over extra cover to reach the milestone.

Gulbadin Naib celebrates after dismissing  K L Rahul.

IMAGE: Gulbadin Naib celebrates after dismissing K L Rahul. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images

By the time Rashid (0/36 in 4 overs) came in for his final spell, Rohit and Rahul were competing to out-score each other.

Rohit saved his best for Rashid when he lofted the spinner towards deep mid-wicket even when he hadn't reached to the pitch of the delivery but the bat-swing did it for him. The next was picture perfect as it was sent soaring into grass banks.

By the time Rohit was out trying to smash Karim Janat over extra cover, he had got eight fours and three sixes.

India pacer Mohammad Shami celebrates after dismissing Mohammad Shahzad

IMAGE: India pacer Mohammad Shami celebrates with teammates after dismissing Mohammad Shahzad. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images

When India bowled, Ravichandran Ashwin, playing his first international game in six months and white ball international after four years, was too good for the Afghans, finishing with figures of 2 for 12 in four overs that also had 12 dots.

Jasprit Bumrah (1/25 in 4 overs) was steady as usual while Ravindra Jadeja (1/19 in 3 overs) looked decent.

Mohammed Shami (3/32 in 4 overs) got a bit of stick but picked wickets at regular intervals.

India's players celebrate the wicket of Rahmanullah Gurbaz.

IMAGE: India's players celebrate the wicket of Rahmanullah Gurbaz. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images

Shami struck with the final delivery of his second over to remove opener Mohammad Shahzad for a duck and keep India on top of the game.

Fellow top-order batter Hazratullah Zazai fell to the very next ball, slicing a catch to mid-on to fall for 13.

Gulbadin Naib and Rahmanullah Gurbaz took the attack to India through the rest of the powerplay, lifting the score to 47/2 at the end of the Powerplay.

Karim Janat takes evasive action against a bouncer from Jasprit Bumrah.

IMAGE: Karim Janat takes evasive action against a bouncer from Jasprit Bumrah. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images

With 164 runs still required after the Powerplay, the comeback always looked a long way off, and Afghanistan visibly changed focus midway through the innings, with an eye on the NRR permutations.

Naib, Najibullah Zadran and captain Mohammad Nabi ensured that Afghanistan got a proper total on the board, with the skipper’s 35 off 32 particularly important in that rebuild.

Karim Janat finished it off with lusty late blows to finish unbeaten on 42 from 22

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