India were moving at a sensational pace in the ongoing ICC World Cup 2019 edition, registering three clinical victories and their fifth match against Afghanistan was expected to be an easy challenge. However, it was a nail-biting contest which gave the Men in Blue a tough reality check as they had to snatch a hard-fought 11-run win over Afghanistan at The Rose Bowl, Southampton. The Afghanistan spinners bowled amazingly well to restrict the star-studded Indian batting line-up within a pretty modest first innings total. In the second innings, despite chasing not a very big score, things were always expected to be pretty difficult for Afghanistan and it happened pretty much the same. Mohammad Nabi kept battling towards the end, but Mohammed Shami bowled fabulously picking up a staggering hat-trick to help India register an emphatic victory.
Afghan spinners' efficient performance keeps India in check at 224
After winning the toss and opting to bat first, India suffered a huge blow at the start of their innings as the in-form opening batsman Rohit Sharma got dismissed in just the fifth over. The pair of KL Rahul and Virat Kohli then got together to bail their team out of the troublesome situation with a fine stand of 57 runs. Rahul once again failed to convert his start of 30 runs into a bigger score, while Kohli notched up his third half-century of the tournament at the other end. Kohli also stitched a vital stand of 58 runs along with Vijay Shankar.
Both Shankar and Kohli also got out at a very crucial point in the game, leaving India in a spot of bother at 135 for 4. The duo of MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav then resurrected the Indian innings with a partnership of 57 runs for the fifth wicket but they scored at a very slow pace. Dhoni got out in the 45th over, while Jadhav played a significant innings of 52 runs to help India finish with a total of 224 runs on the board. For Afghanistan, the spinners bowled really well and the pair of Gulbadin Naib and Mohammad Nabi finished with two wickets each.
Shami’s hat-trick seals it for India
Chasing a stiff target of 225 runs against a quality bowling attack, Afghanistan also got off to a poor start as opener Hazratullah Zazai was sent back to the pavilion in just the seventh over with 20 runs on the board. The duo of skipper Gulbadin Naib and Rahmat Shah then tried to settle down things, but then Hardik Pandya removed the former. Kohli brought back Jasprit Bumrah and he instantly plucked out the prized scalps of Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi in a single over.
Former skipper Asghar Afghan also got out pretty soon leaving Afghanistan at 130 for 5 in 35 overs. Hardik provided India with another crucial breakthrough in Najibullah Zadran’s wicket, while Yuzvendra Chahal removed Rashid Khan. This left the responsibility on Mohammad Nabi’s shoulders to lead Afghanistan further in the chase as he was well set on a half-century innings.
He raised his half-century and was looking good to take his team through, but then Mohammed Shami brought a massive moment in the game by removing first Nabi and then took the last two wickets off consecutive balls, picking the first hat-trick of the tournament and helping India record an unbelievable win. Shami finished with sensational figures, claiming four crucial wickets, while the trio of Chahal, Bumrah and Pandya picked up two scalps each.
India: 224/8 in 50 overs (Virat Kohli-67, Kedar Jadhav-52; Mohammad Nabi 2/33, Gulbadin Naib 2/51)
Afghanistan: 213/10 in 49.5 overs (Mohammad Nabi-52, Rahmat Shah-36; Mohammed Shami 4/40, Yuzvendra Chahal 2/36, Jasprit Bumrah 2/39)
Result: India won the match by 11 runs.