India survived a major scare against minnows Afghanistan here in the world cup 2019 as the underrated team nearly toppled the giants India before Bumrah and Shami bowled their hearts out in the death overs to seize the match by a mere 11 runs but not before Afghanistan had made a mark.
India may have moved on with the points but the day belonged to Afghanistan as they made India sweat for every run when they batted and every wicket when they bowled. In fact Afghanistan was ahead in the match for 80% of the time before faltering right at the end when Mohd. Shami, playing his first match in this world cup and defending 16 runs in the last over, cleaned up the Afghan tail with his career’s first hat-trick.
When India won the toss and decided to bat first, most of the experts had predicted a 300 plus score and an easy win over Afghanistan but probably no one told this to the Afghans. Afghanistan, coming fresh from the brutal attack from the English batsmen in their last game, were focused on correcting their mistakes and it showed from the very first over that they bowled.
Off break bowler Mujeeb-Ur-Rehman started the proceedings against the Indian openers – KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma, and bowled a tight line length throughout his spell making runs hard to come by. Rohit Sharma was unable to read Mujeeb`s carom ball as the ball crashed into the stumps sending Rohit back in the fifth over of the innings for his first failure of the tournament with his score reading 1 off 10 balls. Afghanistan fast bowler Aftab Alam also kept things quite at the other end until Virat Kohli arrived.
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Virat and Rahul were looking to just rotate the strike against all the Afghan bowlers who bowled with robotic precision throughout the Indian innings. The accumulating pressure of dot balls finally got to KL Rahul as he attempted a reverse sweep against the off spin of Mohd. Nabi to lob an easy catch towards the point fielder. Rahul scored 30 runs off 53 balls and a partnership of 57 runs with Kohli. Afghanistan never let India away on what was a slowish wicket and no batsman except Virat Kohli (67 runs from 63 balls) looked comfortable out there.
To put it in perspective: Vijay Shankar scored 29 off 41 balls, MS Dhoni got 28 off 52 and Kedar Jadhav, the man who gave some respectability to the Indian score, made 52 off 68 balls to hold out in the last over of the innings. Pandya failed to give the expected flourish to the innings as he could muster just 7 runs from 9 balls. India scored 224 for 8 in their 50 overs. All 6 bowlers used by Afghanistan got wickets with Nabi and Gulbadin bagging two each.
Afghanistan would have felt pretty happy with the target of 225 runs but the Indian bowling attack too would have fancied their chances against the lower ranked team. Mohd. Shami, who replaced the injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar for this game looked in good rhythm right from the first ball that he bowled.
Shami and Bumrah hardly gave anything away in the initial overs and reaped instant reward for it as Shami slid one through the gate of Afghan opener Hazratullah Zazai to send him back in the seventh over for 10 runs off 24 balls. Then came the two partnerships that somewhat made Indian fans sweat. First Gulabdin and Rahmat Shah stitched together a partnership of 44 runs for the second wicket and then Rahmat again featuring in a 42 run stand with Hashmatullah Shahidi before
Jasprit Bumrah came back and removed both the batsmen in the same over to reduce Afghanistan to 106 for 4 by the end of 29 overs to bring back some relief to the Indian camp. Yuzvendra Chahal and Hardik Pandya kept striking with regular wickets as Mohd. Nabi, the No. 6 batsman for Afghanistan kept chipping away with crucial boundaries to keep his team in the hunt.
Bumrah’s accurate Yorkers in the end overs left Afghanistan with 16 runs to get in the last over with 3 wickets remaining, to be bowled by Mohd. Shami. Nabi hit the first ball for a boundary but holed out to long on off the third ball of the over with still 12 runs to get but Shami bowled the last two batsmen with consecutive deliveries to bag his first hat-trick and a difficult win for his team. Bumrah was adjudged the player of the match for his figures of 2 for 39 in 10 overs. Shami got 4 wickets while Pandya and Chahal claimed 2 wickets each.
India would be feeling that they got out of the jail in this one but the batting performance would worry the team with Shikhar out, Vijay Shankar at No. 4 and a long tail with No.s 8,9,10,11 all being hardly of any use with the bat. The time spent by the middle order on the pitch today though would serve them well ahead. Afghanistan on the other hand were all charged up today. They would have planned to give a fight and fight is what they gave. India walked away with the match points at the end but Afghanistan got all the hearts.
India: 224/8 in 50 overs
AFG: 213 all out in 49.5 overs
M.O.M : Jasprit Bumrah
Key Records (India v Afghanistan):
- The ODI match between India and Afghanistan was ODI no. 4169.
- India have played Afghanistan thrice now with 2 wins and one tie. If you put these chronologically, it will be “Win, Tie, A Close finish (could be a Loss)”
- Mohammed Shami took his first ODI hat-trick and tenth Hat-trick in ODI Cricket World Cups.
- Mohammed Shami became the second Indian after Chetan Sharma to claim a Hat-trick in ODI Cricket World Cup.
- This is the fifth time an Asian Cricketer has taken a Cricket World Cup Hat-trick. Only Lasith Malinga has done it twice (4 wickets off 4 balls in 2007, and hat-trick in 2011).
- This is the first hat-trick from Cricket World Cup 2019, still a long way to the finals- Hat-tricks have just started.
- Mohammed Shami’s 4 wicket haul is his seventh in ODIs, he’s still to take a 5-wicketer.
- Virat Kohli scored his 52nd Half Century.
- This was Virat Kohli’s 53rd ODI win as an Indian Captain.
- Kedar Jadhav scored his 6th ODI Half Century.
- Mohammad Nabi scored his 14th ODI half Century