Brave Afghans Made Favorite Indians Toil
Afghanistan was almost written off by experts and observers. Their world class spinners were not shining. But on the sunny day at Southampton the slow wicket turned and gripped.
Afghan bowlers teased and tormented strong Indian batting restricting them to 224 /8. Afghans chase was disciplined. But high quality all round Indian attack piped them to the post as they were bundled out for 213 losing marginally by 11 runs. Indians survived Afghan scare.
Unbeaten so far India with 9 points from 5 matches looks safe for semi final berth. Afghanistan lost all six of six. But finally they announced their capability as emerging power in world cricket.
Had they possess experience of winning against stronger teams in major tournament they would have hurt India for sure?
After India won the toss and elected to bat, Indian admirers started talking about 500 score. But on a slow turning wicket Afghan quality spinners and medium pacers teased Indian batsmen right from the start. Prolific Rohit was felled by Mujeeb with a Google which he failed to read.
Kohli and Rahul tried to resurrect, But Afghans kept taking wickets at regular interval did not let any batsman settle. Raul and Kohli were removed by experienced Nabi. All Afghan bowlers bowled miserly spells as India could crawl to 214/8 in allotted overs. Nabi (2/32), Rashid (1/32), Mujeeb (1/26) bowled tight.
Indians are best players of spin. Bowling well by spinners against on any wicket must be given due credit.
Afghans should have played their normal game not being extra cautious. Instead they tried to be too much conservative letting quality Indian bowlers rule the roost.
Sami (4/40), Bumrah (2/39), Pandya (2/51), Chahal (2/36) combined sweetly squeezing Afghans. Yet Rahmat Shah (36), Shahidi (21), Gulbadin Naib (27) got start but fell when they tried to open up. Only Nabi (52) carried on the fight till the last.
Sami in his last over earning a rare hat trick diffused Afghan challenge. Nabi, Aftab and Mujeeb were dismissed in consecutive deliveries. India won by 13 runs after toil and sweat. Afghans were piped to the post.
Many thought Sami should have been player of the match. But perhaps Bumrah taking wickets of two set batsmen Rahmat Shah and Shahidi in one over at crucial time was considered as turning point of the match.
India must have got a wake up call. They have to care about batting more seriously. They have options in the middle order.
Punt or Kartika may be tried after India secure their position further. Jadeja may be another option. They have a huge dilemma whether to play Kumar and Sami both when Kumar recovers or go spin heavy.
ICC World Cup 2019 Match no 28 Played at Southampton On 22 June 22
India Vs Afghanistan
Brief Score Card
India 224/8 ( V Kohli 67, KH Jadhav 52, KL Rahul 30, MH Dhoni 28, V Shankar 26, Mohammad Nabi 2/32, Gulbadin Naib 2/51 , Rashid Khan 1/32, Mujeeb Rahman 1/26 , Aftab Alam 1/54 ) beat Afghanistan 213 All Out ( Mohammad Nabi 52 , Rahmat Shah 36, Gulbadin Naib 27, Hashmatullah Shahidi 21, Nazibullah Zadran 21 , Mohammad Sami 4/40, S Chahal 2/36, JJ Bumrah 2/39 , H Pandya 2/51 ) by 11 Runs.
Player of The Match: JJ Bumrah