Monday, May 23, 2022 | Shawwal 21, 1443 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

India come to the party with batting blitz

Riding on a batting blitz, India registered a massive 66-run win over Afghanistan that has mathematically kept their hopes of qualifying alive in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021, in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.


Batting first, Rohit Sharma (74, 47b, 8x4, 3x6) and KL Rahul (69, 48b, 6x4, 2x6) smashed fifties and healthy cameos from Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant helped India put up the highest score of the World Cup: 210/2 in 20 overs.


With the massive victory, India have improved their Net Run Rate (NRR) to a positive run rate of +0.073 and their fortunes would depend on their remaining games against Scotland and Namibia as well as New Zealand’s match against Afghanistan. If Afghanistan manage to upset NZ, that would give a big boost to India’s chances of qualifying for the semis.


AFGHANISTAN STRUGGLE


Afghanistan were off to a poor start as they stumbled to 13/2 losing Mohammad Shahzad and Hazratullah Zazai in quick succession. Rahmanullah Gurbaz played a brief innings that was studded with a boundary and two sixes before he was brilliantly caught in the deep by Hardik Pandya for 19.


Afghanistan were scoring at a brisk rate to keep their run-rate up as well but India were checking on them at regular intervals.


Ravichandran Ashwin, making his comeback into the Indian white-ball team after 2017, scalped Gulbadin Naib as Afghanistan slipped to 59/4.


At 61/4 after the completion of 10 overs, India were looking to wrap up the rest of the Afghan batsmen as quickly as possible.


Mohammad Nabi hung around for a while with some lusty hitting but eventually Afghanistan wrapped up their innings at 144/7 in 20 overs.


INDIA DOMINATE


India had their best start of the tournament as Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul took off all guns blazing. At the end of the powerplay overs, India were 52/0, their best score in powerplay in the tournament.


Rohit was batting at 34 off just 19 balls with five boundaries and a six and Rahul going at 18 off 13 with a boundary and a six.


The Afghanistan bowlers Hamid Hasan and Naveen ul Haq were getting clattered around all over the park as they went about their business.


India were laying a strong platform to go berserk in the latter part of their innings.


At the end of 10 overs, India were at a very healthy 85/0 with Rohit and Rahul in their 40s and looking to make the most of the remaining 10 overs.


The slow paced nature of the Abu Dhabi wicket was causing some problems to the batsmen but Rohit and Rahul were dealing with it smartly.


Rohit Sharma’s well deserved fifty and India’s 100 came in the 12th over, the latter after a massive six from Rahul.


Rahul’s fifty came after an inside out aerial shot through the covers as India started to explode in Abu Dhabi.


In the 14th over, Rohit absolutely blasted Rashid Khan out of the park with two huge sixes as 16 runs came off that over.


Rohit was finally out for 74 holding out to Mohammad Nabi off Karim Janat in the 15th over and Rahul was castled by Gulbadin Naib in the 17th over.


Then it was the Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant show that took India to a mammoth 210/2 in 20 overs.


Pandya bulldozed his way to an electric 35 off just 13 balls comprising four boundaries and two sixes while the busy Pant smashed 27 off 13 balls with three sixes and a four.


It was going to be a herculean task for Afghanistan to pull it off as India were looking to win big with an eye on the Net Run Rate (NRR).


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