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By Nishad Pai Vaidya
Mar 5, 2014
India finished their Asia Cup 2014 campaign with a clinical eight-wicket victory over Afghanistan at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur in Bangladesh. It was nothing but a consolatory victory as India are all but out of the competition after Pakistan beat Bangladesh on Tuesday. On the other hand, Afghanistan were playing for pride and one can say that they have won some respect during this tournament.
India do have many questions to answer as their Asia Cup campaign ends. Firstly, they fielded an unchanged side for this game; even though they had the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishwar Pandey in their side. Also, their seamers failed to trouble a relatively weaker batting line-up as the Afghanistan top-order was very good. Mohammed Shami did get two wickets, thereby completing 50 scalps in One-Day Internationals, but was too expensive to begin with.
Noor Ali Zadran was very good upfront. He was driving very well and even when they pitched it a touch shorter, he stood tall and drove with authority. Nawroz Mangal was given a promotion, but lost his wicket early when he inside-edged Shami onto his stumps.
While Noor Ali continued stably, the Indians changed their tactics and got back the spinners. Ravindra Jadeja dismissed Rahmat Shah and Noor Ali in his very first over. Asghar Stanikzai also did not last long as Jadeja had him pulling to mid-on. That was the start of the slide and Afghanistan had slipped to 83 for six when Samiullah Shenwari entered the stage. There was a cameo from Mohammad Shahzad, but it was Shenwari who extended Afghanistan’s challenge and got to his fifty in good time even as wickets kept falling at the other end.
Ultimately, with the score on 159, Shenwari was leg-before to Shami, becoming his 50th victim in the format. That was the end of the Afghanistan innings. Jadeja finished with figures of four for 30 and Ravichandran Ashwin finished with three for 31.
India made a change to their batting line-up as Ajinkya Rahane came in place of Shikhar Dhawan to open the batting. The duo started off slowly but went on to accelerate as the innings progressed. For a major part of the innings, Rahane was the more dominant partner, but Dhawan caught up and actually got to his fifty before Rahane. They took India past 100 quite easily and both fell in quick succession thereafter.
Rohit came at No 3 and Dinesh Karthik was in at No 4 as skipper Kohli decided to let some of his teammates have a hit in the middle. The two batsmen finished the game with 17 overs to spare.
India got the bonus point in the process, but it would hardly matter now as they are out. If only Bangladesh had beaten Pakistan they would say.
Afghanistan 159 in 45.4 overs (Noor Ali Zadran 31, Mohammad Shahzad 21, Samiullah Shenwari 50; Ravindra Jadeja 4 for 30, Ravichandran Ashwin 3 for 31) lost to India 160 for 2 in 32.2 overs (Ajinkya Rahane 56, Shikhar Dhawan 60; Mohammad Nabi 1 for 30, Mirwais Ashraf 1 for 26) by 8 wickets.
Man of the Match: Ravindra Jadeja.
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