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Top-seeded India clinch gold medal after washout

Shahidullah's 49 lifted Afghanistan after an early collapse before rain stopped play in the final

Shashwat Kumar
India celebrate their gold-medal win, Afghanistan vs India, Asian Games final, Hangzhou, October 07, 2023

India celebrate their gold-medal win  •  AFP/Getty Images

Rain played spoilsport in the men's final at the Asian Games, meaning that only 18.2 overs were possible before the game was abandoned. India, by virtue of being the higher-seeded team, were awarded the gold medal in what proved to be an anti-climactic end to a competitive tournament.
Earlier in the afternoon, India had won the toss and had elected to field first. Arshdeep Singh set the tone early, like he did in the semi-final, using the conditions and getting the ball to move prodigiously, both in the air and off the surface. However, it was Shivam Dube who dealt the first blow, getting Zubaidi Akbari to mistime his slog to mid-on in the second over.
Arshdeep got his reward in the very next over, cramping Mohammad Shahzad for room and having him caught-behind. Shahzad was unhappy with the decision. His unhappiness was not entirely unwarranted, with replays later indicating that the ball flicked his right bicep rather than the bat or glove.
Afghanistan were dented further in the fourth over, with Noor Ali Zadran involved in a needless run-out. He pulled the ball to deep square leg but was a little sluggish with his running, eventually falling inches short of his ground at the striker's end while trying to complete the second run.
Afsar Zazai and Shahidullah stitched together a 37-run fourth-wicket partnership and looked set to increase the scoring rate in the middle overs. Zazai, though, could not read a beautifully-disguised Ravi Bishnoi googly in the 10th over. The ball pitched on a length just outside off and jagged back, breezing past the inside edge and crashing into the stumps. Shahbaz Ahmed castled Karim Janat an over later to leave Afghanistan tottering at 52-5 after 10.5 overs.
Afghanistan got their act together once captain Gulbadin Naib strode out. He injected composure into their innings and put together a 60-run partnership with Shahidullah, off just 45 balls. The pair rotated the strike and were proactive enough to pounce on any loose deliveries.
Shahidullah finished with a 43-ball 49, while Naib ended with 27 off 24 balls, helping Afghanistan to a total of 112-5 before rain arrived. Bishnoi was the pick of the bowlers for India, giving away only 12 runs in his four overs and bagging a wicket. Arshdeep, Dube and Shahbaz scalped a wicket apiece.

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