Rohit - Rahul stitch a 140-run partnership for first wicket, 4th century partnership for this duo
India 210/2 in 20 overs (Rohit 74, KL Rahul 69; Janat 1/7) defeat Afghanistan 144/7 in 20 overs (Janat 42*, Nabi 35; Shami 3/32, Ashwin 2/14) by 66 runs
India is now playing the remaining tournament knowing that they have to pull a rabbit out of the hat to make it to the knockouts. And for achieving the same, defeating Afghanistan is one of the most important steps.
Virat Kohli and Co. have had a forgettable stint so far in the tournament, having lost both of their matches played against Pakistan and New Zealand by large margins, which has put them in a sticky situation.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, are in a relatively better position against their opponents in their fourth match of the tournament, having won two of the three games so far.
The last two encounters between India and Afghanistan have had tight outcomes, with one match ending in a tie, while India winning the second one in a close finish.
Virat Kohli's jinx continued to prevail as he lost the toss for the third consecutive time in the tournament and was sent to bat first.
Rohit-Rahul provide India with a gleaming start
The management stuck with the good-old opening pair of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul coming into this clash as India was put to bat first. The duo following two humiliating losses assimilated the whole situation and gave India a much-needed roaring start to their innings. Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi bowled the first over, followed by putting another spinner Sharafuddin Ashraf on the other end.
Both the openers resolute in their intent began with the fireworks right from the second over by extracting 16 runs off Ashraf's over. They showed a glimpse of their aggressive intent and further switched their gear to aggression. Rohit started with the carnage by punishing Naveen Ul-Haq for 18 runs comprising of two boundaries and a six. In no time India crossed 50+ after 5 overs. It was the first 50-run opening stand in the tournament for India without any loss of wicket.
While Rohit played his natural game, from displaying pulls and hooks for boundaries and sixes, Rahul showed a calmer and composed approach stacked with regular boundaries. The fiery start got further pump after Rohit Sharma completed his 23rd half-century, and also his first half-century in the T20 WC for India since 2014.
India also surpassed 100-runs as Rohit hit a six and a four after reaching his 50 in the 12th over.
The following over saw Rahul reach his 13th half-century in the T20Is for India after punishing Gulbadin Naib with a boundary over the extra cover. The duo further continued with the fireworks and punished even their best bowler Rashid Khan who went wicketless throughout the innings. Rashid conceded 16 runs off the 14th over as the openers inched towards the 150-run opening partnership.
However, that finally got curtailed on 140 runs when Karim Janat bowling his first over dismissed Rohit Sharma for 79 runs and gave Afghanistan the first vital breakthrough. In a span of two overs, KL Rahul also departed on 69 runs as Gulbadin Naib putting in his experience tamed Rahul by cleaning his stumps. Both the Indian openers departed, but they already caused enough destruction with the scoreboard reading 147/2 after 16.3 overs.
Hardik Pandya & Rishabh continue with the carnage
The moment Rahul got dismissed Pant took the charge and carted two consecutive sixes included his self-styled one-handed six at log-off. He along with the new batsman Hardik Pandya pursued the rest of the innings with the same approach and further carried on with the carnage by adding 62 runs for the 4th wicket. The duo resorted to a two-pronged assault and attacked from both ends. They accumulated 30 runs in the 17th and 18th overs, followed by 19 runs in the 19th over, and gave India a brilliant finish. India posted a mammoth 210/2 in 20 overs, the highest total posted by any side in this edition so far.
Afghanistan loses openers early
Afghanistan lost two early wickets with Mohammad Shami striking in the final delivery of the 3rd over to remove Mohammad Shahzad for a duck. Shami beat Shahzad with the pace as the ball took his leading edge towards the mid-off only to get caught by Ravi Chandran Ashwin as the Indian team celebrated their first wicket.
The second wicket to fall was of Hazratullah Zazai who looked destructive after hitting a boundary and a six and was dismissed for 13 runs in the first ball of the 4th over. However, after losing two quick wickets, two Hazratullah Zazai and new batsman Rahmanullah Gurbaz held their nerves before launching the attack on Mohammad Shami in the next over. Both the batsmen gave Shami a taste of his pace by charging down against him for 21 runs in the 5th over. Afghanistan scored 47/2 after the powerplay as both the batsmen looked at ease while chasing a mammoth target.
But that ease was short-lived as Virat Kohli introduced spin and brought Ravindra Jadeja into the attack. Jadeja got his first wicket and India its third breakthrough by dismissing dangerous-looking Rahmanullah Gurbaz for 19 runs. The next two wickets to fall was of Gulbadin Naib (18 runs) and Najibullah Zadran (11 runs) after Virat Kohli introduced Ashwin into the attack. Ashwin further gave India an upper hand as Afghanistan was struggling at 69/5 after 11.5 overs and needed more 141 runs off 49 deliveries.
However, Mohammad Nabi and all-rounder Karim Janat stitched a 57-run partnership for the 7th wicket and kept the side's meagre chance alive in the game. But the partnership too came to an end as Shami returned for his second spell and dismissed the Afghanistan skipper at 35 runs in the first ball of the 19th over. He also dismissed Rashid Khan for a duck and finished as India's highest wicket-taker 3/32 in 4 overs.
Afghanistan lost the game by 66 runs as India finally got off the mark with their first victory of the tournament. Their chances of qualifying for the playoffs are still alive in their upcoming matches after positive gains in their net run rate.
Player of the match
Rohit Sharma was adjudged the man of the match for his terrific 79-run knock studded with 8 boundaries and three sixes. He completed his 23rd half-century in the T20Is and laid the foundation for a massive total with KL Rahul (69 runs) for the opening wicket.
Stats and Facts
- Highest opening stand for India in T20Is:
140 runs - KL Rahul-Rohit
136 runs - Sehwag-Gambhir
-The 140-run partnership was also India's second-highest opening stand in T20Is on foreign soil. The 160-run stand between Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma at Dublin is still the highest to date.
- India registered the highest total in the T20 World Cup 2021, finishing at 210/2 in 20 overs against Afghanistan.
- This is India's second-highest finish in the T20 World Cups so far. The highest being 218/4 against England in 2007 when Yuvraj Singh hit Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over.
- Rohit Sharma now has scored 50+ scores 30 times in the ICC tournaments (including WTC, World Cups, Champions Trophy and T20 WC)
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