India 159/7 [V.Kohli 50, S Raina 38, S Zardan 2/33] beat Afghanistan 136 All out [Mohammad Nabi 31, Karim Sadiq 26, L Balaji 3/19, Yuvaraj Singh 3/24] by 23 Runs.
Player of the Match: Virat Kohli
Spirited Afghans bowled brilliantly, fielded poorly dropping at least 4 easy chances .They still restricted very strong (7 batsmen and two all rounder) to manageable target of 160 to win. They were well on course. But lack of experience of winning habit made them succumb to a 23 runs defeat. A little more patience in middle order batting and a bit better skills of playing short lifting deliveries and quality spin could earn them the first major win against the fancied Indian team.
Put into bat by Afghanistan star studded India could only manage 159/7 through some steady batting of Virat Kholi 50 in 34 deliveries and some explosive late order heating by Suresh Raina 38 in 33 deliveries and Dhoni 18 * in 9 deliveries [10 in the very last two balls] .The Indians could be in much dire state if all the catches some very simple ones from Kohli, Raina were taken .But these were part of the game which Afghans will learn as they mature with experience.
Zardans with new white balls troubled Indians with lively pace and lateral movements .Gambhir looked completely out of touch and Shewag was time and again fishing outside the off stamp. Indians were
22/2 in the 5th over .If only Karim Sadiq could accept the easy opportunities offered by Kohli, Yuvaraj and later Raina Indians could face greater humiliation in batting. Kohli and Raina steadied the boat living dangerously against probing Afghan attack. Finally the team could score a face saving 159/7 still barely enough to remain in the contest.
Afghanistan started the response briskly with heavily built Wicket Keeper batsman Mohammad Shezad playing some explosive unorthodox strokes. He got out trying one stroke too many when Dhoni just started getting a bit panicked. India playing with only 4 specialist bowlers could run out of resources if only Afghans could implement a better batting strategy. Instead they suffered a vital middle order collapse loosing 3 crucial wickets to steady left arm spin of talented Yuvaraj. From 2/75 in the 11th over it became 5/76 in the 12th .The momentum was lost which Afghans could not recover .India is too good a team to lose initiative. Dhoni marshaled his resources well and Baljai stuck vital blows in his second spell to terminate Afghan venture at 136 still 23 runs short.
This match must have given lot of confidence to enthusiastic Afghans. They might have lost the match but won many admirers all over the cricket world for their very positive display .If they can iron their skills professionally they will soon become a force to reckon with in shorter version of the game. We have already seen them perform well against Pakistan. Australia and India. They do not appear to be overawed by the name and fame of the opposition and play to their potential .Spirited Afghans were down but definitely not out.