Virat Kohli and his men survived a mighty scare before India beat Afghanistan by 11 runs in a thrilling affair in Southampton. What promised to be a one-sided affair turned out to be one of the best games of this tournament. India had all the reasons to worry after a superb bowling effort from Afghanistan reduced them to a paltry 224 for 8 on a tough Southampton track.
Batting first, India started disastrously as they lost their in-form opener Rohit Sharma for just 1. Mujeeb Ur Rahman castled Rohit with a gem of a delivery. A 57-run stand between KL Rahul and Virat Kohli steadied the ship before the former played a rash shot to get out.
Just like Rahul, Vijay Shankar also got the start but threw it away and departed for 29. Kohli was looking at ease and was scoring freely. However, with MS Dhoni struggling to get going from one end, Kohli fell for 67 while trying to play a fierce cut. Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav then steadied the innings but could not score freely. Jadhav went on to score his fifty but managed only 52 runs from 68 balls. Hardik Pandya also struggled to bat freely as India finished on a modest total.
In reply, Afghanistan remained in contention throughout. India kept the scoring rate under check and took wickets at crucial junctures but Mohammad Nabi made life difficult for them. Nabi scored a fighting fifty and remained till the last over before Mohammed Shami finished off things. With 16 runs needed from the final over, Nabi hit the first ball for a four. However, Shami picked up a sensational hat-trick to guide India to a thrilling win.
What a way to end it @MdShami11! ???
Nabi c Pandya b Shami
Alam b Shami
Ur Rahman b Shami
India take an absolute thriller by 11 runs.
— ICC (@ICC) June 22, 2019
Speaking at the end of the game, Virat Kohli was all praise for Afghanistan’s fighting spirit. He also said that the team was confident of winning the game before criticising the shot selection from his teammates.
“A team like Afghanistan who has a lot of talent doesn’t let you play the way you want to play. Everyone had collective belief that we can win this one. As soon as I went in I understood the pace of this pitch cross batted shots are not on this pitch and you gotta play straight bat and I was able to rotate strike and our shot selection could have been much better and I think a lot of horizontal bat shots cost us lot of wickets,” said Virat Kohli.
“I figured out that playing with the straight bat is the only way you can get runs on this pitch, you can’t really take the game away from the opposition and you gotta respect the conditions to knock the ball around for ones and twos and once you lose wickets then on a pitch like that with three quality wrist spinners . Its was always going to be tough and I thought Nabi bowed outstandingly also and they really puts some pressure on us in the middle overs and as I said out shoot selection could have been a lot better,” he added.