By Jawad Hussain
KARACHI, September 26, 2018 (News925.com) – Leg-spinner Rashid Khan held his nerve whereas all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja lost his cool as Afghanistan secured a memorable tie against India in their final outing in the 2018 Asia Cup at Dubai International Stadium on Tuesday night.
There was no real importance of the Super-Four encounter between India and Afghanistan, except that Afghans wanted a good result for their war-ridden people back home. And this is exactly what they got. After troubling all the other teams they met during the course of the tournament, they finally achieved the best result by holding India to a tie.
India, which had already qualified into the 2018 Asia Cup final, fielded a relatively weaker side against an Afghanistan outfit, which had already crashed out of the tournament. However, the decision resulted in a massive debacle as they failed to beat a team which is not considered a top team in the international cricket arenas.
It was a day that Player of the Match Mohammad Shahzad will never forget in his life. He smashed seven sixes and 11 fours during his 116-ball knock of 124 runs that set up the amazing result for the Afghans. He was ably aided by Mohammad Nabi, whose blistering knock of 64 runs from 56 balls featured four maximums and three boundaries. The duo allowed Afghanistan to score a formidable total of 8/252 from their 50 overs.
Ravindra Jadeja was the star of the show with the ball for the Indians as he captured three wickets for 46 runs. Kuldeep Yadav also bagged 2/38, but a lackluster bowling line-up failed to contain Afghanistan to a meager total.
India started off in a champions’ style as Lokesh Rahul (60 off 66 – 5 fours, 1 six) and Ambati Rayudu (57 off 49 – 4 fours, 4 sixes) didn’t make Indian fans feel the absence of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, who were rested for the dead rubber. Dinesh Karthik (44 off 66 – 4 fours) looked good during his conservative innings but it was the middle order that failed India. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (8 off 17), Manish Pandey (8 off 15), Kedar Jadhav (19 off 26 – 2 fours), and Deepak Chahar (12 off 14 – 1 four) all failed to make sure their presence in the middle during the final overs.
However, Ravindra Jadeja (25 off 34 – 1 four) kept India in the game until the final over where he finally lost his cool. India needed seven runs from the final over by Rashid Khan to seal the victory. Jadeja smashed the second ball of the last over to the midwicket boundary for a boundary, but the pressure of the penultimate over got to his brain. India needed one run for victory from two balls but instead of securing an easy single, Jadeja decided to take the aerial route and handed a simple catch to Najibullah Zadran at midwicket.
India finished the Super Four round on top of the points table with five points from three matches whereas Afghanistan finished with one point from their three games.
Pakistan and Bangladesh will battle it out for the second place in the final against India at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The winner will meet India in the September 28 final at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.