Colombo, Sep 19, 2012
Virat Kohli's dream run in international cricket continued as his half century helped India reach a target of 159 for five against minnows Afghanistan in their opening group league encounter of the ICC World T20 on Wednesday.
Put into bat on a sporting track at the R Premadasa Stadium, the Indian top-order, sans Kohli, failed to make an impression with the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh missing out on an opportunity to put up a big score under their belt before the marquee game against England.
It was mainly due to Kohli's 39-ball 50 and an useful 32-ball 38-run knock from Suresh Raina helped India set a decent if not an impressive target against the minnows.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni provided the final flourish ending the innings with a four and six of the last two deliveries to remain unbeaten on 18 from nine balls.
The Indians were also helped by some poor effort on the field by Afghanistan as they dropped as many as four catches ? with Raina being dropped on two occasions.
The standout shot remains the six he hit off medium pacer Gulbodin Naib. With minimum feet movement, Kohli just lifted the bowler straight and the ball tarvelled a distance of 93 metres.
Kohli's partnerships of 46 runs each with Yuvraj and Raina for the third and fourth wicket respectively helped India cross the 150-mark.
But it all started with Gambhir's old habit of playing away from his body and it cost him dearly as he dragged back an innocuous delivery from Shapoor Zadran onto his middle stump. The left-hander made 10.
Sehwag was dismissed by a peach of delivery from Shapoor.
The ball pitched on the off-stump and moved a shade as the batsmen tentatively played at it and the resultant nick was gleefully accepted by wicketkeeper Mohammed Shahzad. Sehwag managed only eight.
Yuvraj's first shot was a splendid one as he lifted Shapoor in a copybook manner over straight boundary. However the comeback man was not in his element on Wednesday. Once the two spinners ? offie Karin Sadiq and left-arm spinner Mohamed Nabi -- were introduced into the attack, Yuvraj found it difficult to score runs.
On his personal score of 17 and team's total of 62, Yuvraj tried to scoop an overpitched delivery from Nabi but offered a return catch which the bowler failed to latch onto.
However he failed to cash in on this gift as he was soon caught by Shapoor at short third-man trying to cut a Sadiq off-break. He scored a painstaking 18 of 20 balls.
Kohli, on the otherhand, was stroking freely but did get the benefit due to profligate Afghanistan fielders.
On 33, he lifted Sadiq towards widish long-on and to his delight found Shamiuallah Shenwari drop the easiest of chances.
Kohli was finally holed out in the deep immediately after he completed his 50 but Raina along with Dhoni hit some lusty blows to prop up India's total. (PTI)
Brief Scores: India 159 for 5 in 19 overs (Virat Kohli 50, Suresh Raina 38; Shapoor Zadran 2 for 33) vs Afghanistan