Afghanistan v India, World T20 2012, Group A, Colombo September 19, 2012

Afghanistan give India scare but run out of gas


India 159 for 5 (Kohli 50, Raina 38, Shapoor 2-33) beat Afghanistan 136 (Nabi 31, Balaji 3-19, Yuvraj 3-24, Ashwin 2-20) by 23 runs

Bubbling with enthusiasm and energy, Afghanistan gave India a scare with the ball and a half with the bat, but 20 overs proved to be too long a time for them to sustain that quality and keenness. They could have had India at 79 for 5, but dropped Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina within eight deliveries only for the two to add a total of 53 further runs. They also conceded 16 extras to facilitate India's recovery to 159 runs, but Mohammad Shahzad, Nawroz Mangal and Mohammad Nabi chased with spirit and with gusto, taking them to within 43 with four overs to go, but R Ashwin dismissed Nabi for a 17-ball 31 to kill the chase.

Two sides turned up at the R Premadasa, the underdogs who were clearly enjoying their day on the world stage, and the fancied team who seemed to have the weight of the world on their shoulders. With India's bowling and fielding nearly conceding 160 against an Affiliate team, MS Dhoni surely has the weight of the world firmly on his shoulders. Bigger tests await India, but tonight was about Afghanistan putting up the first show for a minnow in this tournament.

It was the tall left-arm seamer Shapoor Zadran who gave Afghanistan an intentful start. The first ball he bowled, the first of the match, was dug in short even if wide outside off. By the end of that over he was beating Gautam Gambhir for pace. The official broadcasters recorded it at 150.3kmph. In his next over he got one to stop a touch, and Gambhir played on. That earned Shapoor a third over at the top, and he finished his job on Virender Sehwag: beaten twice outside off before edging through.

At 22 for 2 in the fifth over, Kohli respectfully expressed his inability to do anything wrong, reaching a sixth fifty in his last six international innings. When he lofted Gulbodin Naib for a straight six in the eighth over, the run-rate crossed six for the first time since the innings first achieved some shape. The spinners, though, put a lid on that momentum. Yuvraj Singh edged a cut to short third man off Karim Sadiq in the 11th over.

Sadiq and Nabi proceeded to exert pressure on new man Raina who soon lobbed straight back to Nabi, but perhaps in his eagerness to celebrate he let it spill. In the next over, Sadiq nearly got his second but the hit burst through Samiullah Shenwari's hands at long-on. From a possible dominating position, Afghanistan had now let indiscipline creep in both their fielding and bowling. Shapoor came back to go for 14 in his last over that included a typical extra-cover drive from Kolhi and a high full toss to Raina.

In the next over, Raina was dropped again. Dawlat Zadran came back to get Kohli a ball after he had reached his fifty, but he undid his good work with six wides in the 19th over that also incuded three lovely yorkers. Nabi bowled a superb 20th over full of yorkers until providing Dhoni with two low full tosses that he sent for four and six.

That wasn't about to dent Shahzad's spirit, who had promised a Dhoni-style helicopter shot in the lead-up to the match. He duly delivered it, off a full ball from Zaheer Khan no less, and Afghanistan were 24 for 0 in three overs, just the rate they needed. L Balaji stopped that rot for India by getting Shahzad with a bouncer, but Afghanistan were far from giving up.

Mangal hit Balaji and Irfan Pathan for a six and a four, sending Dhoni to his magic man Yuvraj, who delivered immediately with an lbw off a straight delivery. When he took two in two in the 12th over to reduce Afghanistan to 75 for 4, the game seemed over. India's bowling weakness, though, was about to raise its head. Nabi hit Zaheer's length bowling for 16 in the 16th over, and if India didn't quite panic they couldn't have been far off.

In the next over, though, Ashwin did Nabi in with a long pause before delivering, and getting him to mis-hit to long-off. That flattened the chase, but it was an effort that a lopsided tournament so far badly needed.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jagan on September 20, 2012, 18:52 GMT

    @ baryalaiAzizi ...Dude you think India had a good day and Afgan's had bad day..... You got it all wrong. Its other way . India had a bad day and it still could beat your azzes..Stop being cocky.

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 18:18 GMT

    @SoulTaker... Future is Afghanistan's of-course. they can beat any team and any one.

    ICC doesn't support Afghan team; they are not scheduled to many tournaments, not given chance of ODIs though they have ODI status. Thanks for Aussies and Pakistan for supporting Afghan team. They came to such big tournments by their talent and efforts. and soon the big teams will be afraid, as the India

  • monir on September 20, 2012, 18:17 GMT

    i am sure india will lose the first round of super 8 ,,, even if they pass the group stage ,, mark it down ,, ,, i am an afghanzzz

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    @@Nisala Fernando-- Mate let me remind u one thing, before ICC even thinks of taking away test status from India ,India would take away ICC's status and BCCI will be world's cricket body and i bet u all teams will follow india.

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 17:37 GMT

    Love u Afghan team, love ur each member.

    Dear ICC plz and plz now that the talent of Afghan team is obvious let them improve, they need to play at least 8-12 ODI in a year and more T2Os.

  • Soul on September 20, 2012, 16:45 GMT

    @Aziz Rahman Siddiqui: Ur team played really well we all acknowledge and appreciate that...confidence is good overconfidence is bad for ur health....ur team is just like a kid they have to learn lot more....dont just brag about this game and make stupid comments like AFG can beat any team.....after all we are the world champions....I admit that our current bowling is bad...will wait and see how u perform against other teams who has better bowling than Ind...Peace

  • Anil on September 20, 2012, 16:30 GMT

    Where there is talk about india, the maximum number of comments are recorded. Either they win or loose, they are popular. No matter in bashing or in praising! Indians are the talk of the town everywhere

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 15:57 GMT

    it cud b a shakey start but much more to come on d way......wait fr blue to bleed...go india go...

  • Dummy4 on September 20, 2012, 15:36 GMT

    come on t20 is anybody's game.anything can happen the same india can humble aus or sa very next day and viceversa

  • Rhonda on September 20, 2012, 15:31 GMT

    @Dhanvanth, I agree India doesn't have much in the way of death bowling (though I'm not sure if that's their biggest problem) but as a West Indian, I would point out that our death bowlers are easily Sunil Narine and Andre Russell. You can keep Edwards there, but Taylor hasn't played for us in over two years, and he's certainly not on the team here. I wish the rest of the world would get over their obsession with someone who hasn't played for us in years.

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