Although India won the match, its Afghanistan who won the hearts in the match. Coming to this match with no wins and playing against a best team and took the game to 100th over is a big effort. During first innings, when they are bowling with great intensity and line & length, everyone thought it’s their strongest part and expected that , and at the same time they thought batting will collapse and will not give a great challenge to wrist spinners , but the batsmen too played with great intensity and played both the wrist spinners so well than any other team in this WC. It forced Virat to make lot of bowling changes during the match. Before the match, everyone thought it will be an easy game for India and Afghanistan will be on back foot but by the end of the day it was not an easy game for India especially in the batting. It was a great bowling performance by Afghanistan bowlers. Hats off to the Bowlers.
Indian bowlers did a good job with the ball, but wrist spinners are not able to pick wickets in the middle of the innings which made the fans little tensed about the chase. But it is the bowling changes made by Virat which got the breaks. Making Hardik to continue bowling,he got hit for runs and continue to bowl short balls. Keeping an over for Chahal for the end which took dangerous Rashid wicket. Bought Bumrah in the middle and able to pick two wickets. For India it was fast bowlers who did the job.
Last two overs are the real match winning overs. It was almost 6 to 8 yorkers in last 12 balls which gave 50th win to India. Well done Bumrah and Shami.
After the match, so many comments saying that Jadhav and Dhoni played very slowly and Dhoni and Shankar should be replaced by Pant and Karthik. But what you expect when 4 wickets are down with just 136 on scoreboard. The imp Kohli got out and its just Hardik after Jadhav and Dhoni.
Accepted they didn’t rotate the strike well but except Kohli, none of the batsman did that in this innings. I guess as there is no batsman after Hardik which made them to play like that and they want to take the innings to 45th over and to score big in last 5 overs.
But whatever we say this does not look good for India as none of the batsman tried or felt comfortable to rotate the strike – not even the openers, middle order. If this is a big match and if opposition has a great batting, then we could have ended in other side of the result.
But Dhoni and Jadhav partnership was the one who took India to a reasonable total (20 to 30 runs short) although they played slowly. Its clearly evident how wickets fell after Dhoni and Jadhav got out. It happened after 45th over and that’s the reason we didn’t get affected much. If that happens at 34 or 35th over then what will be the score and what will be game result after seeing Afghanistan Batting.
Let’s come to the match.
Rohit and Rahul started the innings in the same manner what they did in last game. They want to see off the new ball and want to lay a platform for the middle order. But this time it was the pitch that helped Afghanistan style of bowling and didn’t allow India to settle down in first 10 overs.
Rohit got out early in the 5th over to a beautiful delivery by Mujeeb Ur Rahman. It was a second ball of the 5th over and Mujeeb landed the ball on the off stump and it holds the surface which moved back through the defense of Rohit. He got bowled for just 1 of 10 balls.
Virat came to the middle and same as usual, he took the charge of the innings, and started playing beautiful shots.
On the other hand, Rahul took his time, but it was too slow as an opener. But the credit should be given to Afghanistan bowling which utilized the condition to 100% and the bowlers kept lot of pressure on Rahul. The strike rate was dropping, and Rahul tried to play a reverse sweep and got out. But it was Afghanistan bowling who made Rahul to play that shot by drying his runs. He scored 30 of 53 balls.
Shankar came to the middle at no. 4 and there is a point for him to prove as no 4. Started slow and didn’t look strong in the middle in first 20 balls he faced by scoring just 10 runs. But at the other end, Virat was flowing like a river and didn’t put pressure on Shankar although his scoring rate was low. They both tried to form a partnership and want to take the game deep till 30 to 40 overs. Except Virat, no other Indian batsman looked comfortable in the middle.
In 22nd over, Virat reached his 3rd consecutive 50 in the tournament and to surprise he is yet to reach his first 100 in the tournament. Shankar looked good after first 20 balls and when everyone thought he will score this chance, he played an unnecessary sweep shot to Rahmat Shah in 27th over and got out. He himself was frustrated after that shot.
Dhoni walked into the middle when the score was 124 in 27 overs with loss of 3 wickets. He started very slow as like other batsmen. 31st over was the turning point of the match when Virat tried to cut the ball in Nabi bowling and gave straight catch to Rahmat Shah. The entire stadium went mute so as the commentary box. The only batsman looked comfortable in the middle and scoring at a good strike rate.
Although Kohli got out, I guess every Indian was happy because it was the chance for the middle order to get some batting time in the middle and score a good amount of runs before India finishes their league matches.
Jadhav walked in, Dhoni and Jadhav played very cautiously.Jadhav walked in and it was Dhoni and Jadhav who needs to frame a good partnership at that point of time. They played cautiously and took the innings deep till 45th over. It was a slow partnership, but we need to see the conditions as explained in my first comments. Dhoni tried for a big shot in Rashid over and got out and its Hardik who came to the middle. Even Hardik who is in the best form for couple of months found it difficult to rotate the strike or to hit the big shots. It was not Hardik day and he got out to 7 runs of 9 balls.
Jadhav reached his 50 in 50th over and much needed innings to Jadhav who didn’t play or who didn’t get a chance to play in last couple of months due to the injuries. Finally, Gulbadin Naib got 2 wickets in 50th over and India scored 224 runs in 50 overs.
Afghanistan started their innings better when compared to India and looked cool although the runs are not flowing freely. May be its because the required run rate was not so big and the ball is not doing any thing for bowlers. It was 6th over where Shami gave the breakthrough with a superb delivery splitting the middle and off stump.
Gulbadin Naib and Rahmat Shah played like champions and it looks like the game was running away from India. After Indian batting, everyone thought Indian spinners will be in charge of the second innings but they both batted beautifully and never looked troubled by Indian wrist spinners. Although they are not scoring at a good rate but because the target was not so high, there is no hurry for them to score big.
The partnership looking dangerous and it was Pandya who brought the break. In the previous match, the short ball was the hero for England against Afghanistan and Pandya was trying that ball for couple of overs but went for runs. Although he went for runs, he kept trying that ball and got the Afghanistan captain out.
Once again they looked good with 42 runs partnership between Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi and the game will drift away from India if they both continue to bat like that. Then as usual the captain looked all around the ground and picked his wicket taker and gave the ball to Bumrah. He once again provided double break in the same 29th over by taking both the set batsman wickets. This was the turning point of the game and almost it is the over that put India in winning line once again.
Once the two wickets were down, it was Indian bowlers who bowled to their line and length and slowly taking the run rate up the ladder. It was Nabi on the other hand who started playing calmly but he needed a good support on the other end which was not the case. Najibullah Zadran and Rashid Khan looked dangerous but didn’t score big enough and didn’t support Nabi. Both scored 21 and 14.
It was a good captaincy by Virat to bring back Chahal when Rashid is in mood of hitting. Chahal tossed up the ball, Rashid looked for a big shot and the ball was in Dhoni’s hands. Everyone knows what will happen if the batsman goes on front foot and when Dhoni is behind the stumps. It was a big wicket at that point of time as Rashid started throwing his bat and he can connect some big shots which can bring the required run rate.
When Rashid was out, Nabi started to hit big and he bought the match till 49th over where they require 21 balls in 12 balls. In this T20 era, 21 of 12 balls is not a big deal and most of the times, the batting team will be the winners but not when World No1 bowlers bowls the 49th over. Bumrah bowled 49th over and he bowled Yorker after Yorker and gave just 5 runs. So, it was 16 runs needed in the last over and Nabi was on strike.
Shami who came in place of Bhuvi needs to bowl with a big heart. The first ball went for four runs and second ball Nabi went for a short but straight to the fielder. There was a chance of taking a single, but he wants to be on strike. The third ball is again a Yorker and no room for Nabi to play a big shot and it was straight to Pandya at long on. This was the ball which confirmed India’s win. Shami took two wickets in next two balls and became the only second Indian bowler to take a hattrick in WC after Chetan Sharma in 1987.
Finally, India won the match in a nail-biting finish in the last over.
Well done and great effort by Afghanistan team which made India to pull up their socks and to strike hard to win their 50th win in WC.