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Twitter Reactions: Spirited Afghanistan halt India to a tie in a thriller

Afghanistan
Afghanistan

It was supposed to be a dead rubber when India took on Afghanistan in Dubai. Given the fact, India had already made it to the final and the Afghans were no longer in contention, the game was inconsequential in the context of Asia Cup 2018. But for India, it was an opportunity to test the bench strength while it was a matter of pride for Afghanistan.

India made 5 changes and rested all the big guns for the final. MS Dhoni, surprisingly, walked out to lead the side. Afghanistan batted first after winning the toss. Initially, it was the Mohammad Shahzad show all along. He was hammering the Indian seamers and the likes of Deepak Chahar, Siddharth Kaul and Khaleel Ahmed were left wondering.

The Shahzad show

The enormity of Shahzad’s knock can be identified from the stat that the score was 133 when he reached his century. While the batsmen kept departing from the other end, he single-handedly drove the score. Before Kedar Jadhav got him out for 124 off 116 balls, the wicketkeeper-batsman had already done the damage.

India kept chipping away with wickets and brought the game under control. But then it was the turn for Mohammad Nabi to take control of the matters. He scored 64 off 56 balls to take the side to a respectable total of 252/8. Ravindra Jadeja ended up with 3 wickets whereas Kuldeep Yadav bagged 2.

India’s chase began with a flourish when Ambati Rayudu and KL Rahul came out with aggressive intentions. The duo went on the rampage and added 110 runs for the 1st wicket from 17 overs. But after getting to their individual half-centuries, both got out and gave the opposition a sniff in the game.

Barring Dinesh Karthik, no other middle-order batsman hung in there for long. The Men in Blue were unlucky twice when Dhoni and Karthik were given out LBW when the ball was going to miss the stumps. But Rahul had used up the solitary review earlier and they had to leave the field in disappointment.

A thrilling finish

The game went right down to the wire. Afghanistan fielded brilliantly and inflicted 3 run-outs. It all boiled down to Jadeja who carried the hopes of the team. The left-hander played a sensible knock alongside the tail-enders and brought the equation down to 7 from the last over with just one wicket in hand.

Rashid Khan took the responsibility for the final over. Jadeja refused the single off the first ball and then smacked a boundary over mid-wicket off the next. A run each from the 2 batsmen in the middle off the next 2 balls meant India needed 1 to win from 2 balls. All the fielders were in except the deep mid-wicket.

Jadeja looked to loft the penultimate delivery over the in-field but found the only fielder outside the 30-yard circle. He was left stranded but the opposition was jumping with joy. The game ended in a tie but it was nothing short of a victory for the Afghans. For all the hard yards that Asghar Afghan and his men put in throughout the tournament, they didn’t deserve to lose.

Match Summary

Afghanistan won the toss and opted to bat first

Afghanistan: 252/8 in 50 overs

Mohammad Shahzad 124 (116), Mohammad Nabi 64 (56)

Ravindra Jadeja 46/3 (10), Kuldeep Yadav 38/2 (10)

India: 252/10 in 50 overs

KL Rahul 60 (66), Ambati Rayudu 57 (49)

Mohammad Nabi 40/2 (10), Rashid Khan 41/2 (9.5)

Match tied

Player of the Match: Mohammad Shahzad

 

Here’s how Twitter reacted to the spirit of Afghanistan

 

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