Asia Cup 2014 Results: India Finish on a High After Spinners Fashion Comfortable Victory over Afghanistan
By Deepak Vikraman | March 6, 2014 12:52 AM EST
This was just about staying professional, and ensuring you sign off from the Asia Cup 2014 with a win.
India, for 77.4 overs, did just that, bowling Afghanistan out for a low total - 159 to be precise - with the spinners - Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin and Amit Mishra -- coming to the fore. The batsmen then took over serenely -- not with too much Ok-let's-get-this-done-with-before-you-can-say-victory - to chase down the low target in 32.2 overs, losing just two wickets, while Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane, opening the batting, picked up half-centuries.
After Jadeja, Ashwin, both of whom picked up wickets off their first deliveries, and Mishra bamboozled Afghanistan, all out for 159 in 45.2 overs, with their spin, Dhawan and Rahane began circumspectly, taking their side to 34 for no loss in nine overs at the break after India were forced to see off a possibly tricky period owing to Afghanistan's early dismissal.
Both the India openers cranked it up a notch following the break, with Rahane, looking at home at the top, playing some wonderful cover drives and shots through the leg side.
India coasted past the 100-run mark in the 21st over, without losing a wicket - the first team to do so against Afghanistan - before Rahane (56, 66b, 5x5) and Dhawan (60, 78b, 4x4, 1x6) fell in quick succession. Rahane was trapped in front by Mirwais Ashraf, with Dhawan falling to a peach of an off-spinner from skipper Mohammad Nabi.
Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik, however, duly knocked down the remaining 37 runs to take India to a comfortable win - a win that was needed with the World T20 in sight.
The first innings was a wicket-train really as Afghanistan again struggled to make an impact with the bat, while the India spinners just took complete control.
The always-entertaining Mohammad Shahzad was given a break from trying to smash the opening bowlers out of the park, with former skipper Nawroz Mangal beginning proceedings with Noor Ali Zadran.
The India pacers started poorly, giving away extras and boundaries as Afghanistan raced to 29 in four overs. However, Mohammad Shami struck in the first ball of the sixth over, with Mangal chopping a wide delivery onto his stumps.
The batting order was shuffled quite a bit as Rahmat Shah, in for Hamza Hotak, came in at No. 3 and looked to steady the ship along with Noor Ali. The duo lasted seven overs together, with Ravindra Jadeja then deciding to spin through the Afghanistan batting order, picking up two wickets in his first three deliveries.
Shah was the first to go, struck on the pad by a typical Jadeja straight delivery, before Virat Kohli picked up a catch at slip to dismiss Noor Ali off a ball that turned and bounced.
It was 60 for four soon after as Asghar Stanikzai decided to gift his wicket away, whacking a short delivery off the toe of his bat straight to Amit Mishra at mid-on to give Jadeja his third wicket.
Kohli's penchant for dropping catches continued as Najibullah Zadran was given a life, even if it mattered little with the Afghan batsman becoming R Ashwin's first victim, skying one to substitute Stuart Binny.
At 64 for five there was little hope for Afghanistan, despite having Shahzad and Mohammad Nabi at the crease, with the excellent Samiullah Shenwari waiting in the wings. Nabi lasted just 20 deliveries, before edging one to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik off Jadeja, who in the blink of an eye had four wickets to his name.
Shahzad showed glimpses of his attacking talent again, making 22 from 28 balls with a couple of fours and a six, but the right-handed wicketkeeper/batsman failed to read the carrom ball from Ashwin with the umpire having little choice but to raise his finger for an lbw.
That put Afghanistan on 95 for seven, and as wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals at one end, Shenwari continued to show his class finishing with 50 runs (73b, 6x4, 1x6), before Shami trapped him in front, as Afghanistan finished on an well-at-least-we-got-to-this 159.
The innings, though, was all about the trio of Indian spinners, who took eight wickets among them, with Jadeja, who finished with figures of 10-1-30-4, starting the demolition before Ashwin (10-3-31-3) and Mishra (10-1-21-1) also joined in to great effect.
A simple chase for the Indian batsmen it turned out to be, as Kohli and co. at least managed to end the Asia Cup 2014 on a high, while Afghanistan more than held their own against the big boys, with that memorable victory over hosts Bangladesh sure to stick in everyone's memories for quite a while.
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