India beat Afghanistan by 66 runs margin to stay alive in the race for a semi-final spot.
The Super 12 encounter between India and Afghanistan was much more highly-anticipated than what one might have expected before the start of the tournament.
India found themselves in a virtual eliminator and had to ensure a win at all cost, against a confident Afghanistan.
After being asked to bat first, India went off to a flyer. Openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul took the team’s total to 52 in 5 overs.
The 3 quiet overs that followed was only a catapult to the acceleration in the next phase of the game. An opening partnership of 140 in only 88 deliveries set the ideal foundation for India’s renowned middle order.
After being promoted in the batting order, Rishab Pant and Hardik Pandya tore apart the Afghanistan bowling attack, stacking up 63 runs off the last 21 balls of the innings. The regular misfields did not help Afghanistan’s cause, either.
In reply, Afghanistan’s innings never really got going. Frequent fall of wickets and dot balls piling up meant Afghanistan found themselves at 61-4, at the halfway mark.
A 57-run partnership between Mohammad Nabi and Karim Janat was the only positive for Afghanistan to take away from the game and even that came too late in the piece. Janat’s innings in particular was an example of how Afghanistan’s top order should have been batting.
There are several areas to reassess for this spirited team before they take on New Zealand in their last Super 12 match, which they now must win if they are to give themselves a chance of making it into the semi-finals.
The only disappointment from India’s point of view will perhaps be not closing the game out sooner. Given their position in the group, they need their net run rate to be as good as possible.
On the other hand, such an emphatic victory is exactly what they needed to bring back the confidence and momentum they lost in their previous two matches.