Batters fire India to massive win in must-win game
India 210 for 2 (Rohit 74, Rahul 69) beat Afghanistan 144 for 7 (Janat 42*, Nabi 35, Shami 3-32, Ashwin 2-14) by 66 runs
India kept their slim hopes of reaching the Men’s T20 World Cup semi-finals alive with a crushing 66-run win over Afghanistan.
Facing elimination if they lost a third successive game, India made a stunning statement as Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul shared a majestic opening stand of 140 in Abu Dhabi.
Rohit made 74 off 47 balls and Rahul 69 off 48, before Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya sustained the onslaught to carry India to 210-2, the highest score of the tournament.
Afghanistan never looked capable of chasing 211 and their ambition turned to limiting the severity of defeat to protect their superior net run-rate, which determines who progresses if multiple teams finish equal on the same points.
After slipping to 69-5 in the 12th over, Karim Janat and captain Mohammad Nabi, who scored 42 not out and 35 respectively, helped Afghanistan reach 144-7.
The margin of victory keeps India in a thrilling three-team race with Afghanistan and New Zealand for the second semi-final spot behind Group 2 leaders Pakistan.
New Zealand will go through if they beat Namibia and Afghanistan, regardless of other results.
But if the Black Caps lose either game, India – who face Scotland and Namibia – will qualify if they win both their games and overhaul Afghanistan and New Zealand’s run rates.
India batters finally show up
After underwhelming efforts against Pakistan and New Zealand, this was exactly how India wanted and expected to bat in this tournament.
Finally, one of the most talented opening pairs in T20 cricket attacked from the start and set a platform for those following to help set a massive total.
One of the greatest ever white-ball batters, Rohit struck the ball all around the ground, hitting eight fours and three sixes.
KL Rahul, who has finished in the top three run-scorers in the past four Indian Premier League tournaments, mainly targeted the leg side, heaving six fours and two sixes.
Their assured yet destructive approach meant that, after both fell, India could promote Pant and usual finisher Hardik above captain Virat Kohli to continue the carnage.
Pant hit 27 not out off 13 balls and Hardik an even more brutal unbeaten 35 off 13 as they added 63 in just 21 balls in a thrilling end to the innings. (BBC)