There will be a spell from the opposition and we’ll have to absorb the pressure: Rohit Sharma
India’s top order, including Rohit, suffered a colossal failure against Australia as the hosts were reduced to 2 for 3 but Rohit would make sure that didn’t happen again today while he was the first Indian who scored the fastest hundred at an ODI World Cup, coming in 63 balls, and Kohli tonked the winning shot back down the ground, sealing India’s victory.
Afghanistan had won the toss and chosen to bat first; however, they played an excessive amount of dot balls throughout much of their innings, with only the occasional boundary.
Jasprit Bumrah continued to be difficult to dismiss, though Mohammad Siraj is being brought in for some touch, conceding 76 runs in nine overs. Opening batsmen Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran were out badly, while Rahmat Shah was caught by Shardul Thakur’s golden arm, leaving Afghanistan at 63 for 3.
The best play by Afghanistan would come next. The 121-run partnership between Shahidi and Omarzai rendered the spinners mainly ineffective and forced Rohit to call the quicks back earlier than he might have preferred.
Afghanistan began to pick up boundaries at will towards the end as both picked up half-centuries and looked ready for a total of over 300.
But once Hardik Pandya finished off Omarzai with an off-cutter, everything started to go wrong. As a result of Mohammad Nabi’s knock of 19 off 27 robbing Afghanistan of momentum rather than providing it any, the men that came after him were unable to fully regain control.
Shahidi persevered, using his 88-ball 80 to help his team reach a solid total, but when he was bowled by Kuldeep Yadav in a reverse sweep, all dreams of reaching 300 were dashed.
Rashid, Mujeeb, and Naveed were left to play cutesy cameos that helped raise the score to the 272 they were able to achieve, but as Rohit made sure, it was ultimately much too little.
India’s top order, including Rohit Sharma, suffered a colossal failure against Australia as the hosts were reduced to 2 for 3. Rohit would make sure that didn’t happen again today. Rohit’s first boundary came after a slow start to the innings and the floodgates were unleashed.
Fazalhaq Farooqi was hit over long-off for a six and a couple of fours. In his next Farooqi over, Rohit delivered a duplicate performance by accelerating to a quick half-century, which he brought up with a boundary, off just 27 balls. By the end of the powerplay, India had rolled along to 94, the highest score of this tournament, after a couple of sixes and a boundary.
Ishan Kishan was content to be a sidekick at the other end, so Rohit relaxed his arms. The spinners weren’t exempt either; Mujeeb-ur-Rahman gave the opener three boundaries in four deliveries, and before the 18th over was done, the inevitable Rohit hundred had been reached.
It was the fastest by an Indian at an ODI World Cup, coming in 63 balls; Rohit setting the record was not at all unexpected.
At the other end, Rashid Khan removed Ishan Kishan, but Rohit continued to run with Kohli for some time. Although India merely needed to go through the motions at this point, Rashid, who entered the game to bowl later than his team may have required him, eventually cleaned him up with a flipper for 131.
Little more than batting practice, Kohli’s knock was over by the time he tonked the winning shot back down the ground, ending that net session and sealing India’s victory.
Rohit Sharma, the India Captain:
“Was a good win for us. Important to get momentum at the start. You will be put under pressure. There will be a spell from the opposition and we’ll have to absorb the pressure. We absorbed it well. For now, it’s leaving what’s happened aside and moving on. You’ve got players with different skill sets bringing different attributes, which is good for the team. We have batters who play freely and fearlessly. When you have all-around players, things take care of themselves. In WCs, you need to respond with different styles of play. Looking at India Pakistan like we did this game. Don’t want to worry about external favors. We’ll treat every game like that: how the pitch plays, conditions and combinations, etc.”
Hashmatullah Shahidi, the Afghanistan Captain:
“We had above 300 as the target in mind, given India’s strong line-up. Unfortunately, we lost back-to-back wickets in the middle. Our thinking at the toss was that it was a good pitch and we wanted to put up big runs. After losing three, me and Azmat were talking, told him to keep going and look after each other. Looking forward to the seven more games. Hope to work on the issues and come back positively.”
Rohit Sharma, the Player of the Match:
“Was a good pitch to bat. Backing myself to play my natural game. Knew the wicket would get easier once I’d get my eye in. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while. Special to get a World Cup 100. Very happy about that. Don’t want to think about records too much because I know there’s a long way to go ahead and not to lose my focus and what’s required. Just want to make it count on days like this. Some of my play is premeditated, can’t just go out and play big shots. Sometimes, you go by instinct. It’s a mixture of both. I know it’s my responsibility to give the team a good start and put the team in a good position as much as possible. It’s something I’ve done for a while and love. Looks good when it works out. It doesn’t always come off but I want to back myself to keep trying and put pressure on the opposition.”