India and Afghanistan were at two ends of the spectrum before the start of the match. While India was yet to lose a game, the Afghans were yet to find a victory. It was expected to be a walk in the park for the Indians. However, it was not meant to be until the 99th over of the game.
The flip of the Coin
Virat Kohli’s luck with the coin backed him again as the Indian captain chose to bat on a pitch which had previously produced Under-250 scores in the last 2 games. A forced change meant Mohammed Shami came in place of Bhuvaneswar Kumar into the squad.
The First 300 deliveries
The Indian batting was yet to be tested in this World Cup and the trend was expected to continue in this game. However, the bowlers from Afghanistan had other ideas as they restricted the batters from the very first over. Rohit Sharma was knocked over by Mujeeb for a single-digit score which brought Virat early to the crease. Although Rahul and Virat steadied the ship, an untimely shot from the Karnataka man brought the most discussed No.4 batsman to the crease. Vijay Shankar put on a decent partnership with the captain before he was out LBW of Rahmat’s bowling.
A “Mahirat” display was looming large but Virat’s unlucky dismissal and the difficulty in the pitch put the Indian middle-order in some unexpected pressure. The Afghan spinners conceded very few runs and for the first time this World Cup, the team’s batting performance frustrated the fans. Runs were hard to come by and the long boundaries restricted the 4’s and 6’s in the game. Kedar Jadhav’s struggling half-century eventually led India to an underwhelming score of 224-8.
Next 299 deliveries
The equation was simple. India was still the favorites but if the Afghanistan batters stuck to their basics, they were in with a real good chance of creating an upset. India’s defense of their score followed a template that was similar to the previous game against Pakistan. A cautious start and a steady partnership until the middle overs until India’s premier bowlers opened the floodgates for wickets to fall.
While Pakistan gave up in the previous game, their neighbors always made sure their heads were straight. Rahmat, captain Naib, and Shahidi all contributed with useful cameos but it was Mohammed Nabi who made sure the nails of many Indian supporters were getting cut. The 34-year-old all-rounder had a Dhoni-esque demeanor to him which frightened crores of Indian fans. His 52-run knock brought Afghanistan close to India’s total before Shami’s last-over hattrick made sure India won the game by 11 runs.
Jasprit Bumrah was adjudged the man-of-the-match for his 2-wicket spell which made the crucial difference for India. It is good that all the departments in India’s squad were put to test in this game ahead of a few vital encounters. You also need to hand it to the cricketers from Afghanistan for their performance in this game.
Watching that hatrick on loop since morning, all I love and could see when Mujeeb bowled,
— Mandaar ?? (@mandaar88) June 23, 2019
Over reliant on rohit and virat. Need more from Rahul. Shankar did not bowl and hence do not find a reason to bat him at 4. Need to include pant.#INDvAFG
— jkashyap (@jkashyap) June 23, 2019
— Saba H. (@sabacodes) June 23, 2019
We won the game and Afghanistan did not lose. Kudos Mohamed NABI who made it nail biting, made India struggle, forced India to show mettle. #IndiavsAfghanistan
— ranveer (@ranveer__singh) June 23, 2019
This is called spirit of the game!! And this is called true sportsman spirit. Seing all Indians generously praising Afghanistan team for their game… most of them saying India won the match & Afghanistan won hearts. Kudos to this spirit!!! #IndiavsAfghanistan #WorldCup19
— richa anirudh (@richaanirudh) June 23, 2019
— Suresh Raina?? (@ImRaina) June 22, 2019
— kutty7777 (@Anand33dd) June 22, 2019
— Rohan DR (@theyoungwolf007) June 22, 2019
— Kartik Patel (@i_m_kartik) June 22, 2019
— Vishal Pandey (@IYCBagi) June 22, 2019