At Rose Bowl Cricket Ground of Southampton, India were ready to meet
Afghanistan. A good crowd turned in on a bright weekend to enjoy the
contest. India were sitting quite comfortably on the 4th position with 7
points and were yet to lose a game while Afghanistan were at the foot of the
table failing to taste a win in their five games so far in the mega tournament.
Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first on a pitch that appeared to be a good batting track. Indian batting line faced their first set back when Rohit Sharma was sent back early on. Kohli and Rahul took India past 50 but tight bowling resulted in India losing another wicket and Rahul was dismissed. Shankar was the next one to come in who looked promising but he couldn’t defend for long and was dismissed by Rahmat Shah. The old stager Mahendra Singh Dhoni replaced Shankar and tried to get hold of the crumbling Indian batting line up but the plan fell apart when Muhammad Nabi removed Kohli. Jadhav then helped Dhoni to cruise the troubled Indian ship which Afghanistan was making tougher with every passing ball. In the 45th over Dhoni was stumped after which Pandya was India’s next hope but he also found himself helpless against a brilliant Afghanistan bowling. Jadhav got out in the last over, scoring a vital 52 and India managed to post 224 somehow.
Afghanistan came out to bat with Hazratullah and Gulbadin and India picked their first piece of victory when Shami broke Hazratullah’s defense, hitting his stumps. Rahmat Shah and Gulbadin continued the steady chase. Soon after, a top edge by Gulbadin took the ball high and Shankar caught it. Hashmatullah was hunted by Bumrah excellently as he disguised a slower ball and took the catch on his own ball. In the same over Bumrah got rid of Rahmat Shah as well with a good short delivery which went up in the air by taking the edge and Chahal grabbed them in his safe pair of hands. This was the point when India came back into the game keeping the remaining 5 wickets as their target while Afghanistan needed another 119 in 22 overs. Asghar Afghan and Muhammad Nabi continued to put up a fight but Chahal with a perfect delivery bowled out Asghar and strengthened India’s hope. Zardran and Rashid played quick knocks but their early exits pushed Afghanistan downhill and in the end Muhammad Nabi was on strike needing 16 in the last over. He scored a boundary on the first ball of the last over but then a classic Mohammad Shami dismissed him and rest of the Afghanistan’s team completing his hattrick.
India continued their unbeaten run defending 224 and won the game by 12 runs. It was heartbreak for Afghanistan but the cricketing world stood up and clapped for Afghanistan for such a great fight against a world class team.