India squeeze past valiant Afghans
India were given a scare by rank outsiders Afghanistan in the second match of the ICC T20 World Cup before emerging as relieved winners by 23 runs at the R.Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Wednesday night.
Full Scorecard: Afghanistan v India
The current World Cup holders struggled for long periods of their 20 overs before finishing with a barely respectable 159-5 and were in serious trouble with the Afghans on 75-2 in the 12th over until two wickets in as many balls from Yuvraj Singh slowed the scoring rate and allowed India to take control just when they needed to most.
Afghanistan were eventually restricted to a total of 136 all out but nobody could ever doubt their worth on the global stage provided by the shortest version of the game.
Star openers Gautam Gambhir (10) and Virender Sehwag (8) were quickly dismissed but the world’s most in-form batsman, Virat Kohli, took advantage of a couple of fielding lapses and a dropped boundary catch to reach 50 from 39 balls with four boundaries and two sixes.
Yuvraj never settled during an unconvincing 18 from 20 balls before slashing a short ball to backward point but Suresh Raina maintained control of the closing overs with 38 from 33 balls before MS Dhoni finished the innings with ten runs from the final two deliveries to add a touch of gloss to what had been an often frustrating display against a spirited and disciplined bowling attack in which none of six bowlers used conceded more than nine runs per over.
27-year-old all rounder, Mohammad Nabi, having taken 1-35 from his four overs, reignited his team’s flagging fortunes with a brilliant 31 from just 17 balls including two sixes and two fours, but India’s bowlers had enough nous and street wisdom to make sure there were no red faces in the end.
Yuvraj continued his rehabilitation from cancer with a bowling performance (4-0-24-3) as convincing as his batting was not but India still seem to be battling for ‘balance’ in the absence of a genuine all rounder.
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AFGHANISTAN: Karim Sadiq, Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Nawroz Mangal (capt), Najibullah Zadran, Shafiqullah, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbodin Naib, Samiullah Shenwari, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran
INDIA: G Gambhir, V Sehwag, V Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, SK Raina, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), RG Sharma, IK Pathan, R Ashwin, Z Khan, L Balaji