IND vs AFG: Rohit’s hundred, Super Over heroics help India sweep Afghanistan

After notching up a 64-ball ton in the first innings, Rohit‘s swashbuckling cameos in the two Super Overs helped India pip a spirited Afghanistan.

Published : Jan 17, 2024 23:58 IST , BENGALURU - 3 MINS READ

Rohit Sharma plays a shot during the 3rd T20 match between India and Afghanistan.
Rohit Sharma plays a shot during the 3rd T20 match between India and Afghanistan. | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

Rohit Sharma plays a shot during the 3rd T20 match between India and Afghanistan. | Photo Credit: MURALI KUMAR K

There aren’t many days when Rohit Sharma’s white-ball brilliance is eclipsed. It nearly happened at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday when Afghanistan stunningly matched India’s mammoth 212-run total, dragged the contest into not one but two super overs before falling agonisingly short.

Afghanistan made 16 for one in the first shoot-out, only for India to equal it, helped by two sixes from Rohit. In the second tie-breaker, India scored 11 for two but Afghanistan were shot out for one run, with Ravi Bishnoi claiming both wickets to help sweep the series 3-0.

In a match that ebbed and flowed like an ocean wave on a full moon day, Rohit (121 n.o., 69b, 11x4, 8x6) and Rinku Singh (69 n.o., 39b, 2x4, 6x6) rescued their side from a precarious 22 for four with a majestic 190-run partnership, the highest for India in T20Is for any wicket, going past Sanju Samson and Deepak Hooda’s 176 (vs. Ireland, June 2022).

However, Afghanistan showed its collective ethos as openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (50, 32b, 3x4, 4x6) and Ibrahim Zadran (50, 41b, 4x4, 1x6) put on 93 from 11 overs, before two scarily good cameos from Gulbadin Naib (55 n.o., 23b, 4x4, 4x6) and Mohammad Nabi (34, 16b, 2x4, 3x6) almost flattened the host.

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Even when 36 was needed off the last two overs, India seemed ahead, only for Naib to hit 23 runs off Avesh Khan and Mukesh Kumar to level the tie and give the fans more than their money’s worth. Virat Kohli, who was out for a first-ball duck, showed his worth by turning a potential six into a single with a stellar leap at long-on in the 17th over.

Earlier, after deciding to bat, India was off to a disastrous start. Between a cut to the boundary from Rohit off the 13th ball of the innings to another from the captain off the 31st, the crowd was stunned into silence.

On a sluggish pitch, Kohli, Samson and Yashasvi Jaiswal all fell trying to execute cross-batted shots as Fareed Ahmed bowled a fine first spell (3-0-10-3). Shivam Dube was caught acrobatically by wicket-keeper Gurbaz.

Little did Afghanistan know that that would be the last of their happy moments. At one point, Rohit was 13 off 22 deliveries, but he took off in the middle overs, recalibrating his game splendidly to the pace of the wicket.

There were eight sumptuous maximums, including a breathtaking reverse-swept six off tweaker Sharafuddin Ashraf. Rohit’s 64-ball century — a record fifth in T20Is, breaking the tie with Glenn Maxwell and Suryakumar Yadav — came in the 19th over when he hit Azmatullah Omarzai for a six over mid-wicket, a four past short-fine and for another boundary over point.

While all eyes were fixated on Rohit, Rinku proved to be the ghost in the ring, the kind of moving target Afghanistan found incredibly difficult to pin down. The result was a splendid T20 innings, that saw the southpaw even strike at a rate marginally higher than his skipper (176.92 to Rohit’s 175.36).

Rinku smashed half-a-dozen sixes, including three over mid-wicket off the last three balls of the innings, as Afghanistan bled 103 from the last five overs. The weight of the runs would have crushed most teams, but not the spirited Afghans.

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