Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Clinical India trounce Afghanistan for first win. The pair's stand set the platform that allowed India's finishers to blaze away to reach 210/2
The pair's stand set the platform that allowed India's finishers to blaze away to reach 210/2
In a nutshell
India finally made a statement, a rather big one even if quite late, with a commanding performance with both bat and ball. Losing the toss for the third time in the tournament didn't matter much as India's openers – KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma – put on a 140-run stand to lead India to an imposing 210. The bowlers then struck regularly with Afghanistan keen on attacking right through.
What clicked this time for Rahul and Rohit?
Pretty much everything they tried came off. Right from the powerplay, the duo showed the intent to take on the bowling. Rahul kickstarted the method with consecutive lofts off left-arm spinner Sharafuddin Ashraf. Rohit went after Naveen ul Haq's medium pace, cutting and lofting him for a couple of boundaries and a six. India raced away to 53 in the powerplay with neither batter offering a chance.
What about the Rashid threat?
That too was negated expertly. Rashid came on only in the eighth over by which time both batters had found their groove on a surface that was good for batting. His first over was played off watchfully before both batsmen got a few more through sweep shots in his next over. Without any risk, he was taken for 17 in his first couple of overs. Both batters slowed down a touch after the powerplay but got going once more when the pacers came on. When Rashid came on for another spell, Rohit carted him for a couple of sixes signaling India's intent. Rashid had his moments against Rishabh Pant a couple of times, but was negated by DRS and finished with 36 in his four overs without any wicket.
What else worked for India?
While Rohit kicked on after getting to his fifty off 37 balls to finish with 74 off 47, Rahul ended with 69. But India's onslaught got another fillip in the end with Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya finding the boundaries at will. The duo finished with an unbeaten 63-run stand off just 21 balls to give India a rollicking finish.
How did the Indian bowlers respond?
With plenty of runs to play with finally, the bowlers too came in with an improved show. Shami and Bumrah kept the openers under check before they both fell off successive deliveries offering simple catches. But Shami was at the receiving end of an onslaught from Rahmanullah Gurbaz as he was hit for 21 runs in an over. Afghanistan proceeded with aggression despite the strong start from India's bowlers.
How did they pull it back then?
Through the spinners – Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin – after the powerplay. Jadeja had the rampaging Rahmanullah caught smartly at deep midwicket by Hardik Pandya in his first over. Ashwin, who gave away only 2 in his first over, then had Gulbadin Naib LBW off a flicker. It gave him his first T20I wicket since 2016 and he followed it up with another soon after as Najibullah Zadran missed a reverse sweep. At 69/5, Afghanistan's challenge effectively ended. But their lower-order stuck around to reduce the margin of deficit to 66 runs.
What does this mean?
India's NRR has moved to the positive side with that win. But they will still require New Zealand to lose at least one game to have hopes of upping them through NRR. Afghanistan still sit pretty in that NRR race staying ahead of both New Zealand and India.
Brief Scores: India 210/2 (Rohit Sharma 74, KL Rahul 69) beat Afghanistan 144-7 (Karim Janat 42*; M Shami 3-32) by 66 runs