A nerve-wracking encounter was on display as India and Afghanistan shared a piece in the Super Four Clash of this Asia Cup at the Dubai International Stadium.
Meanwhile, MS Dhoni went out for the toss in place of Rohit Sharma as India made an array of changes. Mohammad Shahzad justified Asghar Afghan’s decision to bat first with a swashbuckling knock of 124 runs. He single-handedly lifted Afghanistan to a sizeable 252 for 8 at the halfway stage.
Shahzad carried the batting unit on his shoulders as he accumulated 68.8% of the first 180 runs scored by Afghanistan. So much so, that until the 26th over of the innings no other batsman had scored a boundary. Eventually, Gulbadin Naib collected a boundary via a top-edged pull off Siddarth Kaul.
During the course of the innings, Shahzad on occasions was beaten, but each time it felt as if he had erased his memory of the previous delivery that had whistled past his bat.
He took a toll on Ravindra Jadeja and Deepak Chahar in special and crunched seven sixes in total. Eventually, after exploring every part of the ground, Shahzad departed in the 38th over.
Once Shahzad was dislodged, Mohammad Nabi and Najibullah Zadran stitched a crucial stand of 46 for the seventh wicket to raise hopes of Afghanistan reaching a good total. Nabi showed his experience by blending a diet of singles and twos alongside a few delightful boundaries. For India, Kuldeep and Jadeja bagged five wickets between them as Kuldeep was capable to keep things tight from one end.
Meanwhile, India started the chase on a high as revamped opening pair KL Rahul and Ambati Rayudu smashed the cherry all-over the part. India didn’t miss their regular openers as they convincingly added 100-runs for the first wickets with both Rahul and Rayudu reaching their individual half-centuries.
However, soon after reaching their Rayudu departed followed Rahul. The Afghanistan spinners began to come to the forefront as they sent back two set batsmen within 17 runs. Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni tried to build on the opening stand but unfortunately, Dhoni departed courtesy a wrong decision from the umpire. He looked utterly disappointed as India have used all their reviews early in the innings.
Since then, Afghanistan kept striking at regular intervals despite Karthik’s valiant efforts. The Tamil Nadu cricketer added 44 runs before departing as the Afghans reduced India to 226 for seven to bring themselves back in the game. However, the match went to the wires as both the team shared apiece with Ravindra Jadeja failing to score one run from the last two balls.