India 224 for 8 (Kohli 67, Jadhav 52, Nabi 2-33) beat Afghanistan 213 (Nabi 52, Shami 4-40) by 11 runs
Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi sent India on a tailspin and threatened a Sri Lanka-style comeback as a second successive upset loomed large in the World Cup. Afghanistan's spinners, including part-timer Rahmat Shah, claimed combined figures of 34-0-119-5, but Rahmat and Hashmatullah Shahidi were resolutely playing out India's wristspinners in a chase of 225. However, Jasprit Bumrah returned and bounced out both batsmen in a double-wicket maiden on a slower-than-usual Hampshire Bowl track to crack the game open.
Watch on Hotstar (India only): Full match highlights
Afghanistan were 106 for 4 by this point and the asking rate shot past six. Nabi followed his boundary-less spell of 9-0-33-2 with a fearless assault - 52 off 55 balls - but Bumrah and Mohammed Shami ensured India avoided a potential banana peel and remained unbeaten in the tournament. It was Shami who secured the victory for India with a hat-trick, which began with the prized scalp of Nabi and ended with a whirring yorker that demolished the stumps of No.11 Mujeeb.
The game was still dangling on a razor's edge, when Nabi smeared a hard-to-hit low full-toss off Shami for four straight of long-on to leave Afghanistan needing 12 off the last five balls with three wickets in hand. Nabi slugged the next ball away to deep midwicket and refused the single to specialist wicketkeeper Ikram AliKhil, who in stark contrast, struggled to get the ball away and ended on an unbeaten 7 off 10 balls.
Nabi then hit an attempted yorker straight to long-on and two deadly yorkers breached through the defences of Aftab Alam and Mujeeb. Shami wouldn't have played this game had Bhuvneshwar Kumar been fit. His inclusion had made India's tail longer than usual, but he delivered at the crunch to become only the second Indian - after Chetan Sharma - and 10th player to bag a World Cup hat-trick.
Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal played their parts as well, putting the chase away from the reach of Afghanistan, despite late cameos from Najibullah Zadran (21) and Rashid Khan (14). Pandya was swatted away for back-to-back fours by Gulbadin Naib in his second over, but he responded brilliantly in his next over by hitting a harder length and having the Afghanistan captain top-edge a hook to deep midwicket.
Watch on Hotstar (India only): Shami's hat-trick
Pandya exploited the two-paced pitch with offcutters that often kicked up at the batsman; one such variation had Najibullah spoon a catch to midwicket in the 42nd over. Chahal, who had bowled Asghar Afghan earlier, then struck in the 46th over to have Rashid stumped. At this point, Afghanistan required 35 off 26 balls, but Bumrah and Shami denied them.
In the morning, though, it was the Afghanistan spinners who were denying India's batsmen. Before Saturday, Mujeeb had all of one wicket in eight matches - a dry spell that stretched back to the IPL - but he found his length and form right away on this deck. He bowled Rohit Sharma with a beauty that drifted in and then curved away like a legbreak to kiss the top of off stump. KL Rahul, the other opener, struggled to come to grips with the dual pace of the pitch, too, and when he tried to manufacture something, he spliced a reverse-sweep off Nabi to short third man.
Virat Kohli, though, had no such troubles and zoomed to his third successive half-century off 48 balls. He would finish with 67 off 63 balls at a strike-rate of 106.34; no other batsman struck at over 100 in the match. He cracked Aftab Alam through the covers, flicked Mujeeb behind square and shovelled Rashid through the covers with his bottom wrist. While No.4 Vijay Shankar delightfully drove Rashid inside-out, he was more sedate at the other end, contributing 29 in a 58-run stand - the highest in the match. However, it ended when Rahmat defeated his sweep and trapped him in the 27th over. Four overs later, Nabi got one to drift and bounce to coax a top edge from Kohli.
Watch on Hotstar (India only): Bumrah's double-wicket maiden
MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav then soaked up one dot after another. In all, Dhoni played out 52 balls for his 28 - of which 33 were dots. He stuck to his familiar template of blocking out spinners and waiting for the weak links in Afghanistan's attack - Naib and Alam. While he did muscle Naib through the covers and then hoisted Alam over the same region, relentless pressure from the spinners burst Dhoni's bubble. He dashed down the track to Rashid, only to be stumped for the second time in 293 ODI innings.
Once Dhoni - and later Pandya - fell, Jadhav stepped back and re-calibrated his focus towards batting out the 50 overs. He moved to a 66-ball half-century in the last over, but holed out off the penultimate ball of the innings. It gave Afghanistan hope, Nabi raised it further, but India's gun seamers killed it off and handed them their sixth defeat in six matches.
22-06-2019 11:45 pm