T20 World Cup: All-round India thrashes Afghanistan for first Super 12 win

T20 World Cup: With India in need of big wins, the team fired in unison to land a 66-run win in Group 2 of the Super 12s on Wednesday.

Indian players celebrate their win in the against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi.   -  AP

Virat Kohli lost yet another toss in the ICC T20 World Cup, 13th of his last 14 international outings. Yet again, the opposition inserted India in to bat. But India turned out third time lucky, opening its account with a 66-run victory against Afghanistan on Wednesday.

The change of venue - despite the long boundaries at the Zayed Cricket Stadium - seems to have worked in India’s favour. All the riddles that had haunted India in its first two outings in Dubai, barring the flip of the coin, seem to have disappeared in the UAE capital.

Not only did Rohit Sharma (74, 47b, 8x4, 3x6) and K.L. Rahul (69, 48b, 6x4, 2x6) got off to a quick-fire start, they marked their reunion at the top with a 140-run stand set up the foundation for a gargantuan total. Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya’s lusty blows at the death meant India put on 210 for two on the board.

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Mohammed Shami (3/32) and Jasprit Bumrah gave early breakthroughs and the spin twins Ravindra Jadeja (1/19) and R. Ashwin (2/14), making his first appearance in India’s blues since July 2017, stifled the Afghan batters in the middle. Had it not been for captain Mohammad Nabi and Karim Janat’s partnership towards the end, the margin of victory would have been much higher.

With India in need of big wins, there was never an iota of doubt in Rohit and Rahul’s approach at the top. The moment Rohit lofted Mohammad Nabi over covers for a four in the opening over, it appeared as if the India vice-captain had finally found his mojo. And he didn’t disappoint, displaying his ability to clear the field with panache and even with an odd nudge past the wicketkeeper to the fence. While Rohit was playing the big shots, Rahul also came to party as the duo crossed the 100-run mark  in the 12th over.

IND vs AFG HIGHLIGHTS

Rohit then took on Rashid Khan and tonked the leggie for successive sixes in the 14th over. While he finally mistimed one off medium-pacer Karim Janat to covers in the 15th over, Rahul’s attempts to improvise over short-fine resulted in his dismissal in the 17th.

The next 21 balls mesmerised the crowd even more as Rishabh Pant (27*, 13b, 1x4, 3x6) and Hardik Pandya (35*, 13b, 4x4, 2x6) - expectedly promoted in the batting order - showcased their big-hitting prowess by piling on 63 runs off just 21 balls. The duo’s cameos not only helped India cross the 200-run mark.

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The bowlers, barring Shardul Thakur who couldn’t find his rhythm, didn’t disappoint either, picking wickets regularly as the Afghan batters wilted under the pressure of chasing a big total.

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