New Delhi, Oct 11: Electing to bat first, Afghanistan set 273-run target for hosts India in the 9th match of the ICC ODI World Cup at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, here on Wednesday.
In reply, India were 178/1 in 21.3 overs, with skipper Rohit Sharma dominating the Afghanistan bowlers right from the start. Rohit scored a century in just 63 balls.
Ishan Kishan was out after run-a-ball 47. Leg-spinner Rashid Khan finally broke the glittering Indian opening pair separated after a 156 run partnership.
The highlight of the Afghanistan fight back after three early jolts, was their resilience and determination to fight back. Skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai led their fight back with fine half centuries. Afghanistan piled up 272/8 in 50 overs.
For India, pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah topped the bowling chart with 4/39 figure. He was ably supported by Hardik Pandya (2/43). Shardul Thakur and Kuldeep Yadav claimed one wicket each.
In the Day and Night encounter, India effected one change by bringing in 'man with a golden arm' Shardul Thakur in place of veteran offie Ravichandran Ashwin.
But despite their loss against Bangladesh in the opening encounter, Afghanistan decided to stick to their same playing XI. The big question however remains, will dew play a part in the second half of the match, when Afghanistan spinners bowl late in the evening.
As far as Afghanistan is concerned, their top three batters though got good starts, but they just could not convert that to big scores. Wicket-keeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz (21), his opening partner Ibrahim Zardan (22) and Rahmat Shah (16), all three of them fell to Indian pacers.
Rahmanullah was caught by Thakur off Hardik Pandya trying to play a big shot. The other opener Ibrahim fell prey to Jasprit Bumrah, out caught behind the stumps by KL Rahul. Rahmat Shah was declared LBW to Shardul Thakur.
At one time, Afghanistan were struggling at 63/3 in 13.1 overs. But skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai played with caution and patience. Once they got their eyes in, they provided the counter punch. Both of them hit half centuries and proved that on their day, Afghans can counter any bowling attack.
But after sharing a vital 121 run partnership with his skipper, Omarzai returned to pavilion being bowled by Hardik Pandya. He made a compact 62 in 69 balls.
Kuldeep Yadav ended Skipper Shahidi's valiant innings. Shahidi departed after making 80 (88 balls), falling LBW to Kuldeep.
Once Bumrah was reintroduced to the attack, he got new man Najibullah Zardan (2), caught by Virat Kohli.
In the same over, Bumrah also got Mohd Nabi (19), making him clean LBW. Afghanistan were soon reduced to 235/7 in 45 overs.
Later in the innings, Rashid Khan (16) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (10) played cameos, but could not take the Afghans beyond 300-mark.
From Indian point of view, Mohd Siraj was bit expensive giving away 76 runs in 9 overs without any success.
Should India bring in experienced Mohd Shami into the XI in the next match against Pakistan on Saturday? That question would surely trigger some exchange of views.