India’s bowlers rose to the occasion as the team successfully defended a modest total of 225 against Afghanistan to win by 11 runs in a group match at the Rose Bowl, Southampton on Saturday.
With the team score on 20, Mohammad Shami got Hazratullah Zazai’s wicket as he bowled him for 10. There was a 44-run partnership which steadied the ship before Afghan captain Gulbadin Naib holed out to Vijay Shankar off the bowling of Hardik Pandya for 27 runs.
Then came the double blow in the 29th over. Jasprit Bumrah proved why he is the number one ODI bowler by picking up 2 wickets in 3 balls to leave Afghanistan in a precarious position at 106-4.
The Indian bowlers kept up the pressure by not giving away too many runs in the succeeding overs. By picking up wickets in between, they ensured that the required rate kept mounting for the Afghans.
Going into the home stretch, Afghanistan needed 40 runs off the last 30 balls with 4 wickets in hand. The Afghans kept themselves in the hunt due to some good striking from Mohammad Nabi in the late overs.
It came down to the final over with Afghanistan needed 16 runs to win. But once Nabi went for 52 off 55 balls, it was all over for them. Shami joined in the party towards the end picking up a hat-trick in the final over.
The Indian bowlers kept their nerve in the end to pull off a dramatic win.
Bumrah, Yazvendra Chahal and Pandya picked up two wickets each for the Indians.
Earlier, Afghanistan tweakers spun a web around Indian batsmen to restrict them to 224/8 in 50 overs despite half centuries from skipper Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav.
This is India's lowest first innings total batting all 50 overs since 2010.
Kohli struck his third consecutive fifty with a classy 67 off 63 balls, his innings laced with five fours, while Jadhav scored 52 off 68 deliveries (3x4, 1x6) before being taken at cover by substitute Noor Ali Zadran off Gulbadin Naib.
But a spirited Afghanistan, who kept behind their huge loss to England in the last game, rode on Mohammed Nabi's 2/33 and wickets each for Mujeeb Ur Rahman (1/26), Rashid Khan (1/38) and Rahmat Shah (1/22) to keep the run-flow in check throughout the innings.
Skipper Naib took two wickets in the last over, removing Jadhav and Shami (1) to cap off a brilliant bowling display by the team which still finds itself at the bottom of the points table, without a win, and battling off-field issues and infighting.
MS Dhoni laboured to 28 off 52 balls (3x4) bringing back to memory the days when he was questioned for his slow pace in the twilight of his career.
In the last five overs, India could only manage 30 runs, losing three wickets as the likes of Pandya (7) also failed.
With IANS inputs