India eases past Afghanistan in the Super 8 Stage of the 2024 T20 World Cup

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Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya starred with the bat for India

India started the Super 8 Stage of the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup by defeating Afghanistan by 47 runs on Thursday at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.

India skipper Rohit Sharma won the toss and decided to bat first on a pitch that seemed to crack up at the time of the coin flip.

Fazalhaq Farooqi troubled the Indian skipper from the first ball bowling four consecutive dot balls on the trot before an outside edge and a misfield from the short third-man fielder gifted India four runs and allowed the Indian skipper to get off the mark.

Mohammad Nabi bowled an economical over to put more pressure on India’s opening pair which has failed to fire in the tournament so far. In Farooqi’s second over, Rohit finally succumbed to the pressure as he skied the ball high in the air and opposition skipper Rashid Khan pouched the catch safely to dismiss the Indian skipper.

Rishabh Pant walked out to bat at No.3 and got off the mark with a boundary as Farooqi sprayed the ball on Pant’s pads. Good running between the wickets in the fourth over allowed India to bag 9 runs courtesy of two doubles, two singles, and a triple.

The fifth over saw Virat Kohli meeting a familiar face in Naveen Ul-Haq and the batting maestro brought out his classic shot smashing a maximum straight into the sight screen. The sixth over, bowled by Nabi, was India’s best over in the powerplay as Pant scored three consecutive boundaries against the experienced off-spinner.

The first four was a reverse sweep which flew over the fielders while the second four was courtesy of a dropped catch by Naveen, and the third four was drilled through the cover region.

Rashid introduced himself into the bowling attack after the powerplay overs and it immediately paid off as Pant was trapped LBW while trying to play the reverse-sweep once again bringing Suryakumar Yadav out in the middle.

A boundaryless over from Noor Ahmad built further pressure on the Men in Blue who lost their best batter Kohli as he was caught in the deep off Rashid’s bowling. While Shivam Dube got off the mark with a single, Suryakumar scored his first boundary of the innings as he swept the ball which raced to the fence.

India’s second six of the innings courtesy of Dube who got down on his knees and smacked the ball over the long-off region which forced the umpires to change the ball as the previous ball wasn’t returned by anyone from the stands.

After the drinks break, Suryakumar started with intent as he swept Rashid straight to the fence for four runs followed by his first maximum of the day later in the over before handing the strike to Dube with a single. Rashid then trapped Dube on the back foot with a sharp wrist-spin delivery and a successful DRS call ended Dube’s innings in the 11th over.

India’s vice-captain Hardik Pandya scored his first boundary of the innings against Naveen smashing him through wide mid-off for four runs followed by a run-out call where Surykumar survived as he got his bat down in time to survive when needed.

Azmatullah Omarzai was introduced into the attack next and Surykumar took him to the cleaners with an innovative sweep shot that raced to the fence followed by a drive over the wide mid-off fielder procuring another boundary.

To take control of the proceedings, Rashid decided to bowl himself out and conceded only a run from the first five deliveries of his over but Hardik broke the shackles and procured a boundary through the off-side on the last ball of the Afghan skipper’s spell.

A length ball by Omarzai was punished by Suryakumar as he hit a maximum that travelled 85 metres taking India’s score to 126/4 at the end of the 15th over.

Noor’s re-introduction allowed Pandya to free his arms as he smacked a four and a six, over extra over and long on respectively. Suryakumar then called his turn against Farooqi and smashed an 89m long six over long-on followed by a four which brought up his half-century inside 27 balls before getting caught at long-off on the last ball of the over.

The fall of their most destructive batter didn’t stop the Men in Blue as Pandya went over wide long-on and smashed a 98m long maximum against Naveen in the 18th over. On the very next ball, Naveen targeted Hardik’s pads and the umpire signalled out but a successful DRS call helped the Indian vice-captain stay on the pitch for another ball on which he found the fielder at deep point ending his innings at a score of 32 runs off 24 balls.

In the penultimate over of the innings, Ravindra Jadeja found the fence with a well-placed shot but was caught by Gulbadin Naib at short third-man on the next ball with Farooqi bagging his 15th wicket of the tournament.

In the 20th over, Naveen tried to exploit the angle of the ball going away from Axar Patel but the Delhi Capitals all-rounder made the most of his skills and procured 14 runs courtesy of two boundaries, one through the cover region and one beating the third man fielder.

Arshdeep Singh induced a false start to the second innings with a wide and then Rahmanullah Gurbaz smacked the ball over the mid-off fielder for four runs followed by a maximum later in the over.

Jasprit Bumrah then took charge from the other end and immediately dismissed Gurbaz who was looking threatening with Pant completing the catch behind the stumps.

Ibrahim Zadran came in at No.3 and cut the ball through the point region for a boundary against Arshdeep after seeing off Bumrah’s over. On the very next ball, Zadran could have been caught at backward point by Kohli but the ball jumped out of his hands giving a lifeline to one of Afghanistan’s most promising batters.

Jasprit Bumrah bowled a magnificent spell of 3/7

But, Zadran fell to Axar Patel as the 22-year old found Rohit at cover and the Indian skipper didn’t move an inch before pouching the ball safely in his hands. On the first ball of the fifth over, Bumrah struck yet again as Hazratullah Zazai’s outside edge handed an opportunity to Jadeja to take the easiest of catches at backward point.

Omarzai got off the mark with a boundary as the ball snuck between the wicket-keeper and the second slip after hitting the outside edge of his blade. After bowling a maiden over, Axar was given another over but ended up conceding 8 runs including a maximum over the wide long-on region, smashed away by Gulbadin.

After the powerplay overs, Hardik was introduced into the bowling attack and was immediately sent to the fence by Omarzai for four runs through the extra-cover region followed by a comeback by the Mumbai Indians skipper as he conceded only one run in the next five deliveries.

After Axar’s boundary-less over, Kuldeep Yadav was introduced into the bowling attack for the first time in the ongoing campaign and started off with a no-ball displaying signs of rust. Naib used the free hit wisely and procured four runs.

Jadeja was also welcomed with a huge maximum by Omarzai as the ball flew 100 metres showing that the Afghans were not ready to surrender despite their top-order failing on the day.

India finally struck back as Gulbadin skied the ball after struggling for a few balls and Kuldeep earned his first wicket of the tournament breaking the 44-run partnership between the duo. On the first ball of the next over, Omarzai too lost his wicket as he found Axar at long-on with Jadeja also taking his first wicket of the ongoing T20 World Cup campaign.

Najibullah Zadran scored his first maximum of the day against Kuldeep with a powerful shot over the square leg region but another economical over by Jadeja put the pressure right back on the Afghan batters.

Pandya started deploying the cutters and the slower deliveries but was sent for a maximum over the deep square leg region by Najibullah who wasn’t ready to give up despite the required run rate climbing every over.

Bumrah’s re-introduction meant another wicket for India as Najibullah tried to create some room but found Arshdeep at point who completed the catch which must have stung his hands. In the next over, Nabi decided to take the aerial route against Kuldeep and while the first shot awarded him the maximum, the second ball was pouched safely by Jadeja in the deep.

Noor Ahmad got off the mark with an innovative reverse hit that flew over the point fielder for four more runs. Arshdeep also struck for the first time in the day when he dismissed the Afghan skipper on a score of 2 runs with Jadeja completing the catch safely. On the very next ball, Naveen skied the ball and Pant pouched the ball in his mitts bringing Farooqi in the middle.

The No.11 batter survived the hat-trick ball and even procured 4 runs as the ball flew off his edge and ran off between the wicket-keeper and the slip. In the last over, Noor pulled Arshdeep for a maximum over the deep mid-wicket region and the left-arm fast bowler finally put an end to the proceedings after bowling two consecutive wides as Rohit completed the catch on the last ball to seal a 47-run win against their Asian counterparts.