The pitch was slow and the ball was sticking. Afghanistan found success from their quartet of spinners, including Rahmat Shah whose part-time leg breaks accounted for Vijay Shankar. Mujeeb ur Rahman got Rohit Sharma cheaply during a very Then there was a small partnership between Rahul and Kohli.
Rahul played across the bat and lost his wicket. Virat had a good knock but he was finding it very difficult to score freely.
They managed just 224 in their 50 overs and offered a real chance to Afghanistan. The Afghans started nervously but the second and third wicket partnerships kept them on the track and India on the back foot.
It eventually came down to experience and pressure handling. They had India on the mat for some time but lacked the killer instinct to press the advantage home. A few bad shots added to their woes and then to handle the class of Bumrah and Shami was always going to be too hot to handle, especially at the death.
The Men in Blue showed good character under pressure and just hung in there. They won the decisive moments and this close win will give them more happiness and confidence than any win so far in this tournament. A good workout was needed heading forward.
With Afghanistan slowly inching closer to the target, Virat Kohli turned to his trump card, Jasprit Bumrah. The speedster didn’t disappoint his skipper and removed the set batsmen, Rahmat Shah, and Hashmatullah Shahidi, in a space of three balls. The 29th over completely changed the landscape of this match and India bounced back on top. They slipped in some tidy overs to swell the required run rate and in spite of Mohammad Nabi trying his best by stitching a few partnerships, they fell short by 11 runs.
What an end to this thriller! Well done Afghanistan for making India work hard for their 50th World Cup win! They gave a real scare to the Men in Blue and won the hearts of everyone with their lion-hearted effort. The Afghans will be disappointed on missing out on a golden opportunity to upset one of the title favorites.
Virat Kohli | India captain :
It’s (the win) right up there to be honest. We have been playing some good cricket and you expect yourself to win the toss and put big runs on the board and then you see the pitch being slow with three quality spinners in the opposition, I felt 270 should have been ideal and thought 250 would have been par.
A team like Afghanistan who has a lot of talent doesn’t let you play the way you want to play. Everyone had a collective belief that we can win this one. As soon as I went in I understood the pace of this pitch, cross batted shots are not easy on this pitch and you gotta play with a straight bat.
I was able to rotate the strike and our shot selection could have been much better and I think a lot of horizontal bat shots cost us wickets. I figured out that playing with the straight bat is the only way you can get runs on this pitch, you can’t really take the game away from the opposition and you gotta respect the conditions to knock the ball around for ones and twos and once you lose wickets than on a pitch like that with three quality wrist spinners, it’s always going to be tough and I thought Nabi bowed outstandingly also. They really put pressure on us in the middle overs and as I said our shot selection could have been a lot better.
Its simple we wanted to use him (Bumrah) smartly when the conditions allow him to. He gets a long spell and because he can pick wickets in the spell he can get you quick wickets. He is the bowler who can do the damage at any stage of the innings and the opposition knows that as well. The communication was to finish him off at 49th over so that Shami has enough runs to defend in the last over and yeah the plan worked really well today. Keeping Chahal back also worked.
All in all, the bowling performance was outstanding. Everyone’s waiting for an opportunity and I think Shami was really good today and especially his first spell, he was making the ball do more than anyone else today. Vijay Shankar has come in and he showed intent and he is fielding really well. It’s an