Afghanistan v India, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 5, 2014

India cruise to inconsequential win


India 160 for 2 (Dhawan 60, Rahane 56) beat Afghanistan 159 (Shenwari 50, Jadeja 4-30, Ashwin 3-31) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Agarkar: India achieved little in win

Afghanistan's batting, apart from a match-winning partnership against Bangladesh, has been ordinary, particularly against spin. In a dead rubber against India, and in what was also their last chance to make an impression on this trip, Afghanistan's batsmen collapsed at the first sighting of turn. Ravindra Jadeja picked up two wickets in his first over, and then added two more to run through a middle order that was clueless against India's spin trio.

The three of them - Jadeja, Amit Mishra and R Ashwin - bowled unchanged from the 12th over until the 36th with combined figures of 25-3-73-7 during that period. Was it not for another Samiullah Shenwari riposte, Afghanistan could have folded well inside 50 overs.

Batting at No 8, Shenwari brought up his second half-century of the tournament and added 64 runs with the last three batsmen to avoid a capitulation. He farmed the strike, took vital runs off India's seamers during the Powerplay and despite appearing in trouble against the spinners, he was prepared to attack the loose deliveries. On a day when boundaries were hard to come by, he hit six fours and a six to take Afghanistan past 150.

The Indian team management had decided not to tinker with their playing XI, which meant there was still no place for Cheteshwar Pujara or Ishwar Pandey, the only two in the touring party not to get a game. Kohli, at the toss, mentioned it was important to be patient with the team. But contrary to that logic, they asked Ajinkya Rahane to open the innings with Shikhar Dhawan, instead of Rohit Sharma. The captain, though, couldn't have asked for more as the openers added 121 runs to set up the chase that India completed in the 33rd over.

Like most teams, Afghanistan showed they were enjoying the challenge of facing the Indian seamers as they collected 52 runs in the first 11 overs for the loss of one wicket. But facing quality spin on these slow and low pitches is a different challenge altogether. The other day, Afghanistan had scored only 40 runs in 16.4 overs of spin from Sri Lanka and lost five wickets. Today, the story was no different. Kohli introduced Mishra, who had been impressive in the match against Pakistan, in the 12th over and immediately, it became apparent the batsmen were out of their comfort zone. Noor Ali Zadran, who had been impressive again the seamers, survived an lbw appeal against a googly first ball. And the next over derailed the innings.

Jadeja's first delivery - a quick slider that often buys him wickets of batsmen who are slow to come forward - beat Rahmat Shah's inside edge and thudded on to the pad. His third delivery would have pleased him more; it was slower, loopy, and dipped and then bounced to catch the shoulder of Noor Ali's bat for Kohli to take a simple catch at slip.

Jadeja's next over worsened Afghanistan's position as Asghar Stanikzai slapped possibly the only bad delivery the spinner bowled limply to mid-on. Stanikzai left disappointed, because he knew he could have hit the half-tracker anywhere. What followed was a period of play where a wicket never seemed too far. Like Jadeja, Ashwin had a wicket off his first ball, in the 18th over; Najibullah Zadran heaved at a flighted delivery but top edged to mid-on.

Mohammad Nabi, the Afghanistan captain, was caught behind for 6 off Jadeja in the 21st over and Mohammad Shahzad, who had been pushed down the batting order, scored 22 runs that were not enough to alter the script. When Shahzad was trapped plumb in front by Ashwin, Afghanistan had slumped to 95 for 7.

Mishra, who had figures of 10-1-21-1, was possibly the most impressive of the spinners, beating the bat with metronomic regularity. His legspinners gripped the surface to turn past the outside edge numerous times, while his googlies were unread. After seven overs of bamboozling the batsmen, he too had something to show for his efforts as a googly took Mirwais Ashraf's inside edge and lobbed to Kohli at slip.

However, he still ended with a wicket less than Mohammad Shami, who had dismissed Nawroz Mangal after a wayward start and then trapped Shenwari lbw in the 46th over to end the innings.

On a slow pitch that required extra application from the batsmen, Rahane and Dhawan adopted the ideal game: there was no attempt to play fancy shots and the two relied primarily on maneuvering the ball in the gaps. In the nine overs before the 45-minute break, the openers added 34 runs, hitting only two boundaries. They continued in the same vein after the break, nudging singles to lift the total to 76 in 18 overs. Again, only two boundaries came in that period.

The tempo changed from the first ball of the 19th as Rahane hit consecutive boundaries off Shenwari. He stepped out first ball and clipped the full delivery over extra cover, a shot to which he can now lay claim as his own just because of the ease with which he pulls it off - he takes it low on the bat and punches it without any follow-through. The second one, a wristy flick against the spin beating mid-on, was even better. Dhawan caught the urgency bug too, hitting consecutive boundaries off Rahmat in the next over, the second bringing the century of the stand, India's first in 14 ODIs. It was also the first time Afghanistan allowed such an opening partnership, highlighting the strength of their attack.

India's smooth glide momentarily hit turbulence as they lost both openers in quick succession - Rahane played across the line to be lbw and Dhawan was bowled by Nabi. Rohit Sharma, who walked in at No. 3, and Dinesh Karthik added the remaining 37 runs to complete the formality.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Naresh on March 10, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    @nampally - AGREED their are some players like Pandey, Pujara, Yadav. These guys get chosen in the 16 but dont play a match. Surely there are some tired legs like - SHAMI. There was no need to burn him out in this last game. In fact PUJARA is an ex-U19 WC ODI player (reference: Team selection leaves a lot to be desired. YADAV has not played domestic or international cricket for so long and just warms the bench.

  • Dummy4 on March 8, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    You people always blame DK But even Kholi and Dhoni make mistakes frequently. The loss against SL was due to the fielding of elevenpeople not only DK

  • Atif on March 7, 2014, 19:23 GMT

    When India loses in tournaments or in any series, indian fans start to make excuses like it's a young team OR these tournaments don't matter instead of giving other teams credit for beating them. India can be world champs (albeit was a setup in 2011 WC) but they can't beat powerhouses in Asia ala SL and Pakistan so what does that say to the world about the 2011 WC that india won was all a setup because it was held in India and the final was played in India. Let's see if india can win again next year. My bet is they won't even make it to the semis next year.

    India is the 3rd best team in Asia, admit it indian fans. They didn't win Asia cup two years ago and guess what they won't win it this year either. The fact that this team is always in top2 in all formats of the game is because ICC is a puppet of BCCI. We will all see now that ICC will schedule series against WI, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe all minnow in india so india can get back to stardom. ICC and BCCI are a joke.

  • Ashok on March 7, 2014, 19:12 GMT

    @Al-Bundy 1: Yes, Gavaskar has already slammed the Indian Team management. Unfortunately I was denied access to comment on Gavaskar's article. India has many Fast Bowlers - spinners & pace bowlers. The real problem extends beyond just the Selection of Squad & XI. We have raw fast bowlers who can bowl around 150 KPH but lack direction & control in length. BCCI boasts about its wealth but does so little for the Indian Cricket. SL is asking for financial aid from ICC. As one Fan pointed out 80% of that aid comes from BCCI. SL take that aid to beat India! Why not spend that money to coach Indian bowlers? Secondly selection are highly questionable. Who can justify the exclusion of Pujara from the XI by both Dhoni & Kphli when Indian batting is so unreliable? Pujara is more reliable than Kohli & the internal politics successfully kept him out although it meant a 10-2 Loss record for India in last 12 ODI's. The same goes for the bowlers- Mishra benched consistently & talented not in the squad

  • Al on March 7, 2014, 14:34 GMT

    India's biggest problem is the asinine selection committee and team management. They can learn a thing or 2 from Australia, or Pakistan. How does Pakistan keep on unearthing new pace bowlers like Irfan and Juniad? It's simple - because they take chances on new players. Indian selectors keep on selecting the same players in spite of repeated defeats, and the team management keeps selecting the same playing 11 even after they had lost last 10 ODI with these 11 players.

    It's time to drop mediocre players like Ashwin, Binny and Rohit Sharma from the ODI team. Replace them with Yusuf Pathan/Rasool, Rishi Dhawan/Irfan Pathan, Mandeep Singh/Jhadav. It's time to rest Bhuvi and Shami and try youngsters like Anureet Singh, Pankaj Singh, Jaspreet Bumrah, Umar Nazir, Rahul Shukla, etc.

  • Ashok on March 7, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    @Naresh28: I see your frequent referrals to New Talent which is great! But the real problem with Indian team selection is there is lot of "favouritism". Even the Great Gavaskar slammed the Indian XI selectors for exclusion of Pujara & Pandey in all 4 Asian Cup ODI's. Gavaskar questioned Kohli "Are you worried that Pujara will score runs so that your favourites not consistent will have to make way? His questioning re: exclusion of Pandey followed the same line. My concern is when the Selectors pick a squad, only the Captains favourite XI plays whether they perform or Not. Dhoni & now Kohli have been consistent in this aspect of picking their favourites. India lost 10 ODI's out of 12, winning only against BD & AFG. There is a lot of new talent both in Batting & Bowling. One way to ensure the testing of New Talent is for an impartial selection Team to pick the XI. This eliminates Dhoni or Kohli or any Captain from playing their favourites+ testing & developing new Talent - AGREED?

  • Naresh on March 6, 2014, 23:34 GMT

    India needs to send players on more A team tours. Players like Mandeep Singh(batsman), Menaria, Netravalkar (left arm fast) and Umar Nazir(fast bowler) need to be tested. Some have already done well and there may be other hidden talents.

  • Sandeep on March 6, 2014, 21:31 GMT

    @Vimalan Ravindran I think like you people in our Selection team. That's the reason India cricket team playing worst to worst cricket. We are going to Play world cup not Sunday club match.

  • ESPN on March 6, 2014, 21:04 GMT

    Afghanistan team played a good tournament, they beat Bangladesh and were close to even beat Pakistan. I hope Icc gives them more matches against test nations. Welldone Afghanistan keep it up.

  • Dummy4 on March 6, 2014, 18:49 GMT

    My team for W20 is in order Irfan, Rohit, Virat, Raina, Yuvaraj, Dhoni, Yusuf, Binny, Rishi Dhawan, Jaddu, suryakumar yadav. This team will win the W20 for sure, as this is composition of Batsman, hitters, bowlers and parttimers. Current squad is going to face another defeat in W20

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