Clinical India outgun debutant Afghanistan
St Lucia: Chasing a modest total of 116 runs for victory against debutant Afghanistan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni led India side romped home with a facile win in the opening Group C match of the ICC T20 World Cup in the Beausejour Cricket Ground here at St. Lucia, West Indies.
India captain brought up the winning runs with well flicked two on a Nowroz Mangal’s gentle off spin with 7 wickets and 5.1 overs remaining.
India, who struggled initially with Gautam Gambhir struggling to get into grove, were helped by Murali Vijay’s well brought up 48 runs.
The chase was always on, but Yuvraj Singh’s run a ball 23 runs ensured that India add no more surprising twists and turns to a well made script. It was a clinical display on part of men in blue, but having said that, effort of Nowroz Mangal led side will well be remembered in cricketing annals, as they fought like a brave hearts and proved that on a good day they were well capable of pulling up a big surprise.
For Afghanistan, it all started with, Noor Ali’s maiden fifty, which helped a clearly struggling side post a decent 115/8.
India dictated terms from the very beginning as after winning the toss and electing to field first, they made sure to scalp wickets at a regular interval. Afghanistan failed to grab a good start as they lost three early wickets of Karim Sadiq (0), Mohammad Shahzad (6) and Afghan captain Nowroz Mangal (5) reducing them to 29/3 by the sixth over.
However, Noor Ali made sure that all was not lost as a 68-run partnership with partner Asghar Stanikzai helped him to raise the team’s score to a decent total.
Ali claimed his maiden half-century with the help of 4 boundaries and Stanikzai notched up 30 runs with the help of three super sixes.
However, Ashish Nehra interrupted his blissful journey and reduced Afghanistan to 97/4. From here, nothing could rejuvenate the Afghan innings. The minnows traveled from 97/4 to 97/6 within a blink’s time.
In the end, some desperate efforts by Samiullah Shenwari and Hamid Hassan finally helped Afghanistan conclude at 115/8.
Ashish Nehra meanwhile, remained the star of the Indian bowling attack as he primarily damaged Afghanistan’s top order by notching three wickets with a great economy of 4.75.
Praveen Kumar, who remained the most economical with 4.66 runs per over , scalped two crucial wickets for India.
Afghanistan: Noor Ali, , Mohammad Shahzad†, Nowroz Mangal*, Hamid Hassan, Raees Ahmadzai, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Asghar Stanikzai, Shapoor Zadran, Dawlat Ahmadzai
India: M Vijay, G Gambhir, SK Raina, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni*†, YK Pathan, RA Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, P Kumar, Z Khan, A Nehra