Afghanistan hold India for a tie
Afghanistan 252/8 (50)
Mohammad Shahzad 124
Mohammad Nabi 64
Ravindra Jadeja 3/46
Kuldeep Yadav 2/38
India 252 (49.5)
KL Rahul 60
Ambati Rayudu 57
Mohammad Nabi 2/40
Rashid Khan 2/41
Afghanistan and India fought for 599 balls only to be satisfied with a tied result in a nail-biter at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in their last Super Four match.
India made massive changes by resting Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal. KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Siddharth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed and debutant Deepak Chahar came in.
Afghanistan won the toss and opted to bat first. Mohammad Shahzad got them off to a flier with Deepak Chahar and Khaleel Ahmed taking a beating. His opening partner Javed Ahmadi was struggling on the other and was eating up balls while Shahzad kept the runs flowing.
The duo added 65 runs for the first wicket but Ahmadi’s 30-ball stay came to an end when Dhoni stumped him off Jadeja. Shahzad’s domination was such that Ahmadi could contribute with only 5 runs in the opening stand. Jadeja castled Rahmat Shah with a peach in his next over and Kuldeep inflicted more pain by removing the in-form Shahidi and skipper Asghar Aghan, both for ducks.
Mohammad Shahzad from the other end was undeterred even when Gulbadin Naib took time to settle. He kept knocking the ball around with boundaries at regular interval and got to a well deserved hundred but Afghanistan had just 131 on the board. Chahar removed Naib but Shahzad didn’t give up.
He found support from Mohammad Nabi as Afghanistan rebuilt. Shahzad added 48 runs along with his former skipper before Kedar Jadhav got the better of him. Afghanistan, after his dismissal, upped their ante in the final overs.
Nabi waited for his opportunities to score big and prospered. On the back of his breezy 64 and a run-a-ball 20 from Zadran, Afghanistan gave India a healthy 253-run target.
Chasing 253 for victory, KL Rahul and Ambati Rayudu gave India a solid start with minimal risk. The pace of Aftab and Mujeeb’s spin didn’t bother the duo as much with India crossing the fifty-run mark in the 9th over.
Rahul, having played beside Mujeeb in the VIVO IPL, was nudging him with comfort. Rayudu on the other end was attacking anything loose that came his way. India were sitting pretty with 110 on the board when Rayudu tried to clear long-on but didn’t have enough on it to depart.
Three overs later, Rahul, trying to play a reverse-sweep, was adjudged lbw. India lost him, their DRS and suddenly looked in a spot of bother as Dinesh Karthik joined MS Dhoni to forge a partnership that didn’t last long.
Dhoni was given out lbw to Ahmadi to a ball that was drifting down the leg. Manish Pandey was caught behind off Aftab with India desperately needing a partnership.
Jadhav and Karthik from there added 38 runs but the former saw himself being run-out unluckily as India started to slip. Karthik fell to a wrong lbw decision and India suddenly had two new men between the 22-yards.
Chahar scored 12 valuable runs before Aftab Alam cleaned him up to bring Afghanistan back in the game. Jadeja then found support from Kuldeep who scored 9 before being run-out for an ambitious third run. India were still in control but Siddharth Kaul’s run-out pegged them back.
Khaleel did enough to keep Jadeja on strike who before that, had struck a controversial four, which perhaps could have been a six, to reduce the equation to 1 off two balls.
But there came a twist as Jadeja lost his calm and went for the glory hit off Rashid only to be caught by Najib in the deep as the match ended in a tie.
India will face the winner of the match between Pakistan and Bangladesh in the final of the Asia Cup.