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06 March 201400:22

India signs off with resounding win

Bamboozled by spin, Afghanistan ends Asia Cup campaign with eight-wicket defeat

India signs off with resounding win - Cricket News

Indian cricketer Ajinkya Rahane reacts after scoring a half century.

India ended its Asia Cup campaign with a comprehensive win, and Afghanistan was at the receiving end, but with the tournament over for the two teams, both will look back on it with emotions contrary to the result.

India’s spinners had the Afghanistan batsmen in all sorts of trouble to dismiss the rookie side for 159 in 45.2 overs, and an easy-paced batting effort then brought victory in 32.2 overs, with eight wickets in hand.

The win was built on the good work done by Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin and Amit Mishra, who combined to give just 82 runs in 30 overs, while picking up eight wickets. Then Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane, promoted to open the innings, both hit half-centuries and put on 121 in 23.3 overs to all but settle the issue.

Afghanistan, playing on the same surface on which it had struggled against Sri Lanka two days ago, crumbled after Virat Kohli won the toss at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium. Samiullah Shenwari, the hero of the win against Bangladesh, came to its rescue once again to ensure a fighting total with an innings of 50 off 73 balls.

For India, Jadeja ended with 4 for 30, Ashwin had 3 for 31, while Mishra finished with 1 for 21.

Afghanistan had begun brightly enough, with a somewhat jaded looking Mohammed Shami sharing the new ball with Bhuvneshwar Kumar in an unchanged Indian team. Shami was wayward and expensive in his opening overs, Noor Ali Zadran playing some punches in front of the wicket. A poor stroke gave India the first breakthrough when Nawroz Mangal, partnering Noor Ali at the top of the order for the first time in the tournament, chopped one on to his stumps while trying to cut.

With Noor Ali still in, Afghanistan reached 52 for 1 in 11 overs, but that was when Kohli turned to his spinners, signalling the start of Afghanistan’s unravelling. The Afghan batsmen couldn’t read the turn and were uncertain in movement. All the wickets the spinners took were either caught inside the circle, close-in or trapped on the stumps.

Jadeja struck twice in his first three balls, including the wicket of Noor Ali, caught in the slips for 31 off 35, and once in his next over, Asghar Stanikzai mistiming a pull shot. Suddenly, Afghanistan looked shaky at 60 for 4 in 15 overs.

Ashwin followed Jadeja’s lead in striking with his first ball, and Jadeja’s fourth wicket was that of Mohammad Nabi, the captain, undone by one that turned and bounced to take the edge through to Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps. At 83 for 6, with the cream of the batting gone and 29 overs remaining, Afghanistan was in danger of falling badly short of its coach’s dictum of lasting at least the full 50 overs.

Kohli stuck to spin for 25 overs during which Afghanistan scored 75 while losing seven wickets, finally bringing back Shami in the 36th over with the score 127 for 8.

However, Shenwari ensured there was no ignominy. Once the eighth wicket fell off the first ball of the 33rd over, he took the lion’s share of the strike, facing 49 of the 79 balls bowled thereafter. He was the last man out, eventually was trapped in front by Shami, becoming the bowler’s 50th ODI wicket while misreading the length.

India had nine overs to the dinner break during which Rahane and Dhawan motored to 34 without being separated.

When they resumed, the low target meant both could afford the luxury of playing themselves in and playing each ball strictly on merit without the pressure of keeping up with the run-rate.

Most of the runs came off singles, with the occasional double and boundary livening things up somewhat. Dhawan even struck a maximum off Rahmat Shah, the legspinner included in place of Hamza Hotak, and the scoring rate picked up as the overs advanced. While the 50 was raised in 11.5 overs, the 100 came up in just 20.3. The stand was broken when Mirwais Ashraf won a leg before decision against Rahane, sending the batsman back for 56 off 66. Dhawan fell in the next over for 60 off 78, Nabi’s flighted offspinner beating bat and finding stumps.

Those were mere blips in the chase though, as Rohit Sharma and Karthik knocked off the runs required with plenty to spare.