India struggle against Afghanistan in World Cup

India players celebrate after the match

India players celebrate after the match

On a pitch that offered a lot to spinners Afghanistan managed to choke down India for a gettable 224 runs. Afghanistan's four spinners picked five wickets among them. "A team like Afghanistan doesn't let you play how you want to play", India captain Virat Kohli said.

Considering the form India had been in the ongoing World Cup, it was predicted by nearly all the fans and cricket pundits that the game against Afghanistan would be a cakewalk for the Men in Blue and they will defeat their Asian opponents quite easily.

With 16 runs to get in the last over, Mohammad Nabi (52 off 55) came excruciatingly close to leading his side to their maiden victory in the tournament before Afghanistan were bowled out for 213.

"The communication was to finish him off at 49th over so that Shami has enough runs to defend in the last over and yeah the plan worked really well today".

Afghanistan fought against Australia in their opening match in Bristol, and despite conceding 397 against England in their previous fixture they were able to bat out 50 overs in reply, scoring 247/8.

With an incredible triumph within touching distance, Nabi was caught by Pandya at long on two balls later.

Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib showered praise on his bowling unit but said Bumrah eventually made the difference.

Shami (4-40) became only the second Indian, after Chetan Sharma in 1987, to claim a hat-trick in the World Cup but Bumrah walked away with the man-of-the-match award for what his relatively modest figures of 2-39 do not reveal. "But the intent could have been much better by the middle order batsmen", he said. He needed someone to take charge of the situation early on but that did not happen.

Saturday's match was only the third one-day worldwide between the two teams and defeat for India would have been a major embarrassment despite last year's tie in the Asia Cup.

"Those two wickets by Bumrah changed the game completely".

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