Dubai, Nov 3: India lit up Abu Dhabi with a stunning display of power-hitting to post 210/2 after being put in to bat by Afghanistan in the must-win Group 2 match.
A selection reshuffle saw Rohit Sharma moved back up to opener alongside KL Rahul, and the pair more than justified the move with a brilliant century stand, before Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant finished the innings in style.
India’s mammoth total is the first time a team has passed 200 at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, and has come in the nick of time for Virat Kohli’s side.
Defeats to Pakistan and New Zealand have put India in serious trouble in Group 2. But the boundary salvo has set up the possibility of a heavy win over Afghanistan that could yet give India hope of snatching a semi-final spot.
Sharma and Rahul ripped into the Afghanistan attack through the Powerplay, helping India to 53/0 after six overs of the crucial match in Abu Dhabi. And the runs kept on flowing with the fielding restrictions lifted.
Sharma brought up his half-century with the eighth boundary of his innings at the start of the 12 over. And a whipped six from Rahul brought up the century partnership later in the same over, with Afghanistan struggling to stem the tide.
Sharma’s sparking knock did finally come to an end in the 15th over when he chipped a Karim Janat ball to Mohammad Nabi at extra-cover. And KL Rahul fell for 69 off 48 when he failed to connect with a Gulbadin Naib straight one.
But the platform was a terrific one for India, and their powerful middle-order took full advantage. Pant, promoted to number three, survived an early scare when an edge helped him overturn an LBW decision against Rashid Khan. And he finished with a brilliant 27 off 13.
But Pant’s cameo was overshadowed by the explosive Pandya, whose 35 off 13 displayed his vast array of shots as a finisher.