Virat Kohli lost the toss again, and India were asked to bat first. But this was Abu Dhabi and the Indian captain said at the toss that being asked to bat first might work against a team like Afghanistan. Kohli’s belief was vindicated when India’s openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul dominated proceedings and put together a 140-run opening stand. Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya built upon the foundation to take India to their second-highest total of 210 runs in T20 World Cup history. Ravichandran Ashwin’s return to T20Is after a gap of more than 4 years proved fruitful as he finished with figures of 2/14 as India ran out winners by 66 runs. But is this a case of too little too late?
Here is our report card of Team India’s performance against Afghanistan
1) Rohit Sharma (74) – 8/10
Rohit was back to being his composed self and played quality shots against both spin and pace to give a flying start to the innings. Afghanistan’s bowlers didn’t trouble Rohit much and paid for their lack of homework against the right-handed opener.
2) KL Rahul (69) – 8/10
KL Rahul played delightful shots too, mixing aggression with quality strokeplay to play the perfect foil to Rohit. He started going after the bowling kate but caught up with his partner eventually.
3) Rishabh Pant (27*) – 7/10
Pant was promoted up the batting order to give India’s innings a big finish and he did just that by scoring an unbeaten 27 off 13 deliveries. He hit a boundary and three massive sixes.
4) Hardik Pandya (35*)
The platform was set for Hardik the finisher to take the attack to the opposition and he did just that, staying unbeaten on 35 off 13 deliveries.
5) Virat Kohli – DNB (Did Not Bat)
Kohli didn’t bat in the match but he was spot on with his decision to promote Pant and Hardik and also with his bowling changes.
6) Suryakumar Yadav – DNB
Pandya is connecting with very few and missing all too many. He is not in the best of form with the bat, wasn’t even during the IPL and the team management needs to be questioned about why he has been persisted with.
7) Ravindra Jadeja (1/19) – 6/10
Jadeja was not needed with the bat in the match but he bowled three economical overs and also picked up the wicket of the dangerous Rahmanullah Gurbaz.
8) Shardul Thakur (0/31) – 2/10
Shardul Thakur bowled a poor line and length and got smacked for a lot of runs. Had he not been this expensive, India victory margin would have been bigger. Needs to get his variety going.
9) Mohammed Shami (3/32) – 7/10
Mohammed Shami picked up three wickets but it was the wicket of Mohammad Shahzad which stands out. The other two came towards the end of the Afghanistan innings when the match was already won. His economy rate remains a worry.
10) Ravichandran Ashwin (2/14) – 9/10
Ashwin showed just what India missed in their bowling arsenal in the last two matches. He was virtually unplayable with his guile a variety. Ashwin picked up the wickets of the dangerous Gulbadin Naib and Najibullah Zadran to make it seem like he was never away from this format in international cricket for more than four years. His selection showed how poorly the team management had failed to get the right combination in the previous matches.
11) Jasprit Bumrah (1/25) – 8/10
Bumrah had yet another decent outing although he would have loved to pick more wickets. He had the cushion of runs this time around and should benefit from the presence of Ashwin in the playing XI.
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