India’s T20 side has seen much alteration over the last few years. The experimentation continued in their opening match against Afghanistan at Mohali. In the absence of Hardik Pandya, Shivam Dube announced himself on the biggest stage through a stellar all-round display. The 30 year old cricketer from Mumbai was at the crease when India got past the victory line. Afghanistan showed their typical fighting spirit throughout the match, but it was not enough against an Indian team who are looking to make their mark on the 2024 T20 World Cup.
- Rohit Sharma (Cap.) 2. Shubman Gill 3. Tilak Varma 4. Shivam Dube 5. Jitesh Sharma (WK) 6. Rinku Singh 7. Axar Patel 8. Washington Sundar 9. Ravi Bishnoi 10. Arshdeep Singh 11. Mukesh Kumar
- Rahamnullah Gurbaz (WK) 2. Ibrahim Zadran (Cap.) 3. Azmatullah Omarzai 4. Rahmat Shah 5. Mohmmad Nabi 6. Najibullah Zadran 7. Karim Janat 8. Gulbadin Naib 9. Fazalhaq Farooqi 10. Naveen-ul-Haq 11. Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Indian captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and decided to bowl first at Mohali. This ground is known to assist the batters and the pacers. The last time an international T20 game was played here was back in 2022. India and Australia participated in a run fest that produced 419 runs at a total loss of 12 wickets. Afghanistan would need to put a hefty run amount on the board to challenge the Indian batting stalwarts in the second innings.
India and Afghanistan have met each other on 5 occasions before this match. India clinched four victories against their fellow Asians whereas Afghans are yet to win a match against Team India in any format. One game ended without any result due to rain. After the one-off test in 2018, this was the first time the two sides met in a bilateral series. The last time these two sides met in this format was back in 2022 Asia Cup Final, India predicatably won on that occasion.
|The first T20 international between India and Afghanistan was held at Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali, Punjab.
|The game started at 7:30 p.m. ISt on Thursday, November 11.
Captaincy & Tactics
Afghanistan could not get out their block quickly as Arshdeep Singh nailed them down. The first over bowled by the 24 year old was a maiden. Rahmanullah Gurbaz never looked comfortable during his 28 ball stay at the crease that yielded 23 runs and eventually fell victim to Axar. Axar kept things tight with deliveries aimed at the stumps. He was quick through the air and did not allow any room to manoeuvre. Washington Sundar was also impressive, bowling overs on each of the powerplay, middle and death overs. Shivam Dube was bowling at a rapid speed and gave away just 9 runs. It would be interesting to see in what capacity the 30 year old will be involved if Hardik Pandya continues to struggle with injuries.
India could not start well as Rohit Sharma had a comeback to remember after failing to get off the mark. Mujeeb Ur Rahman was brilliant with his variations with the ball. But the other bowlers failed to back them up. Jitesh Sharma and Shivam Dube was patient at the start and then went thorugh the gears to take the game away from Afghanistan’s reach. The Afghan spin attack failed to make their mark on the game except for Mujeeb. The would face a hard task of containing the Indian superstar studded batting lineup without their inspirational captain Rashid Khan.
Rohit Sharma could not replicate his fine form shown in Delhi during the last World Cup against the same opponents. The Indian skipper played an incredible innings of 131 runs off 84 deliveries to set a new record for the highest number of ODI centuries at the World Cup. Big things were expected from the 36year old after making a comeback to the shortest format of the game after two years. He went away without bothering the scorers however, getting himself run out after a horrible mix-up with Shubman Gill two balls into the innings. Opening the innings, Gurbaz and Ibrahim took charge after an impressive maiden over from Arshdeep Singh.
Both batsmen unleashed an array of powerful shots, including Ibrahim’s spectacular ramp shot reminiscent of his performance in the previous year’s ODI World Cup. Ibrahim, however, escaped an early dismissal in the third over as Dube dropped a low catch at mid-off off Arshdeep’s delivery. Nonetheless, Dube made amends later by taking a crucial catch at short cover to dismiss Ibrahim in the ninth over. Axar Patel played a pivotal role, taking the wickets of Gurbaz and Rahmat Shah, along with economical bowling figures of 4-0-23-2.
India’s chase started on a shaky note when Rohit was tragically run out for a duck in the first over due to a miscommunication with Shubman Gill. Gill, who wasn’t initially slated to play, showcased his aggressive batting style with five fours in a quickfire knock of 23 off 12 balls before being stumped by Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the fourth over.
The battle between Dube and Mujeeb was an intriguing one, with the left-hander initially taking a cautious approach against the mystery spinner. However, Dube soon found his rhythm and scored 14 runs off five balls against Mujeeb. The Afghan seamers couldn’t trouble Dube much, and he reached fifty off 38 balls. The chase was sealed as Dube hit a six and a four off Naveen-ul-Haq, ending the match in style.
Jitesh, who retained his spot in the team ahead of Sanju Samson, made a blazing start reminiscent of his performances for Punjab Kings in the IPL. He played aggressively but fell prey to Mujeeb’s clever bowling in the 14th over. However, Dube, who remained unbeaten throughout, and Rinku Singh comfortably guided India to a comprehensive victory.
With this win, India displayed their dominance and adaptability, even in the absence of key players like Virat Kohli. The team management’s decision to rest players like Kuldeep Yadav and experiment with Washington Sundar paid off, as the young offspinner contributed effectively with his economical bowling performance.
The Indian team management made a strategic decision to rest Kuldeep Yadav, giving Washington Sundar an opportunity to showcase his skills. Despite challenging weather conditions, Washington delivered an impressive performance, conceding only a few runs in the powerplay and middle overs. He was trusted to bowl the penultimate over of the innings, which he handled well, except for a missed opportunity to dismiss Najibullah Zadran with a difficult return catch.
In the slog overs, Mohammad Nabi, Azmatullah Omarzai, and Najibullah Zadran contributed valuable runs to bolster Afghanistan’s total. Nabi, who recently turned 39, demonstrated his experience by hitting some powerful shots, especially against Mukesh Kumar’s short-pitched deliveries. However, Nabi was eventually dismissed along with Omarzai in the same over, leaving Najibullah to steer his team to a competitive total.
Rohit Sharma was not able to unleash due to his run out during the early exchanges of the second innings. Rohit was visibly infuriated at his younger colleague for the misunderstanding. Mujeeb Ur Rahman was bowling fantastically during the early overs of the Indian innings. The 22 year old bowler is one of best spinners of this format and he showed once again his incredible variety during his spell. However the other bowlers were bowling short and wide deliveries which allowed time and space for the opposition batters to free their arms. Rinku Singh had a relatively short stay compared with the other batsmen of the team, but he showcased his power hitting ability during that time.
The Indian management would face a tough task of whom to pick ahead of the T20 World Cup. The spinner department is teeming with resources with Axar and Washington bowling well during the absence of regular bowlers. Kuldeep Yadav was not selected for the last World Cup against Australia, but he is the main man to lead the spin bowling attack on this term. It would interesting to see whether Jadeja or Axar is selected to back him up.
It was a tough night for the fielders due to wet conditions. Shivam Dube failed to hold on to give Ibrahim Zadran an early reprieve. The right hander stand-in captain added 23 more runs before Dube came back to dismiss him eventually. Washington Sundar also spilled a chance off his own bowling to dismiss Najibullah Zadran. The other catching opportunities were taken though, as Indian bowlers restricted the Afghan innings before 160.
The Afghan boys showed plenty of spirit out in the field. But the score was not enough to defend and the efforts of the bowlers went in vain. Gurbaz, Gulbadin and Ibrahim finished the night one catch each.
Mohammed Nabi might be at the end of his career, but the 39 year old is still a valuable member of the Afghan national team. The right hander’s 42 runs from 27 balls gave the Afghan bowlers something to bowl at. Rahmanullah Gurbaz struggled at the crease for his 23 runs off 28 deliveries. Ibrahim Zadran and Azmatullah Omarzai both got off to decent starts but ended up geting out at twenties. A late flurry from Najibullah Zadran (19 from 11) and Karim Zanat (9 from 5) took the Afghanistan score past 150. Axar Patel was excellent on the night with his left arm finger spin. The all-rounder from Gujarat took 2 wickets from his 4 over spell, he only gave away 23 runs. Mukesh Kumar was expensive with 33 runs conceded from 24 deliveries.. The pacer bowler from Bihar also secured two wickets. Shivam Dube was the only other pace bowler who got a wicket to his name.
Shubman Gill started the innings well with 23 runs scored from just 11 deliveries before getting dismissed. Tilak Varma and Jitesh Sharma also played useful cameos to put India above the required run rate. But it was all about Shivam Dube who scored 60 off 40 deliveries, hitting seven boundaries in the process. In the absence of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman was the leader of the spin attack. He was the pick of the bowlers with 2 for 21 from his four overs. Azmatullah Omarzai ended the day with one wicket to his name.
India had the worst possible start to their chase with Rohit Sharma getting dismissed after a mix-up with his opening partner. Gill got off to a flying start though, scoring five boundaries in quick succession. But the right-hander got dismissed with the team score at 28. Afghanistan was well and truly in the hunt for a famous victory against India. Then Shivam Dube joined Tilak Varma out in the middle. The pair started hitting boundaries to get ahead of the scoring rate. They added 44 runs off 29 deliveries to guide towards safe waters. The partnership ended after Tilak Varma was caught by Gulbadin Naib off Azmatullah Omarzai’s bowling. However this third wicket partnership set the tone for the Indian batters who secured the victory with minimal fuss.
India completed an easy victory against Afghanistan by 6 wicket margin with 15 balls to spare.
Player of the Match
Shivam Dube was adjudged the best player of the match for making his return memorable by scoring 60 runs off 40 deliveries. Dube also bowled well in his two over spell, claiming the wicket of Ibrahim Zadran and giving away only two runs.
|Afghanistan Total: 158/5 (20 overs)
|India 159/4 (17.3 overs)
|Mohammad Nabi 42 (27)
|Shivam Dube 60* (40)
|Azmatullah Omarzai 29 (22)
|Tilak Varma 26 (22)
|Axar Patel 2/23 (4 overs)
|Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2/21 (4 overs)
|Mukesh Kumar 2/33 (4 overs)
|Azmatullah Omarzai 1/33 (4 overs)
It was a facile victory for Team India who has secured five victories out the last six games. The bowlers set the platform of easy win by restricting India within a moderate score. Mukesh Kumar and Axar Patel were the pick of the bowlers with two wickets each. Then the chase was made a cakewalk by the bartting performance of Shivam Dube who scored the first fifty of his career. It was a good day to give the youngsters some game time ahead of the World Cup. India and Afghanistan will meet again on Sunday, January 14 at the Holiker Stadium in Indore for the 2nd game of this T20 series.