India comes back with vengeance after a convincing win over Afghanistan

By Kersi Meher-Homji

INDIA SURVIVES! They won a must-win match against Afghanistan early today morning. Experts had written off India’s chance of making to the semi-final of this Twenty20 World Cup but Virat Kohli’s dare devil men showed glimpses of their old glory by crushing Afghanistan by 66 runs at Abu Dhabi.

Afghanistan won the toss and sent India in to bat. As if saying “Thank you”, India’s openers Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul belted fours and sixes to put on 140 runs for the first wicket off only 86 balls. This is their highest stand in T20 World Cups.

The defeats against Pakistan and New Zealand last week were forgotten as Rohit slammed 74 runs off only 47 balls hitting 8 fours and 3 sixes. Rahul was just as aggressive, smashing 69 runs off 48 balls enriched with 6 fours and 2 sixes.

Rohit and Rahul, what a pair!

Then skipper Virat Kohli sent in super hitters Rishabh Pant (27 not out off 13 balls with 1 four and 3 sixes) and Hardik Pandya (35 not out with 4 fours and 2 sixes) to slog. They added 63 runs off only 21 balls for the unbroken third wicket.

India’s total of 2 for 210 is the highest in the current T20 World Cup.

Chasing a near impossible win target of 211 in 20 overs, Afghanistan could make only 7 for 144 as India won by 66 runs. Fast-medium bowler Mohammad Shami took 3 for 32. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin made a good comeback capturing 2 for 14. If only Ashwin was picked in the previous two matches!

Person of the Match Rohit Sharma said at the presentation, “We wanted to get off to a good start which didn’t happen in the first two games. There was a conscious effort to lay a good platform for the other batters to express themselves later. Exceptional batting from KL [Rahul] as well”¦ We were looking to field first but it was a good pitch to bat on. A good start and a respectable total were very important from our side. We knew run rate could come into play and we wanted to win by a good margin, glad that we did that. Whatever the team requires, I’ll try to do that. Today the need was for a quick start, normally I try to assess early on but today I had to play a bit differently.”

To enter the semi-final looked impossible for India till yesterday. Now it seems vaguely possible as they meet weaker teams Scotland tomorrow and Namibia on the 8th. Victories by big margins and India can outfox New Zealand and Afghanistan in their Group to finish second. Pakistan is a certainty with their four convincing wins in four matches so far.

More sleepless nights!

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