India-Afghanistan Match Ends in a Tie, First Ever in the Asia Cup!
It was supposed to be a dead rubber, but India’s final Super Four match against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup was anything but that!
Mohammad Shahzad’s stunning century lit up the first innings as Afghanistan posted 252/8 in their 50 overs.
India then seemed on-track to chase that total, with Ambati Rayudu and KL Rahul stitching a 110-run opening stand. But things changed quickly. The defending champions were eventually nine wickets down, and needed 7 runs off the last over to win.
Rashid Khan was to bowl the final over. After a dot ball on the first delivery, Ravindra Jadeja smashed a four on the second ball. He could manage just a single on the third, and that put pressure on young Khaleel Ahmed as India needed two to win and one to tie. However, the 20-year-old survived, took a single and gave Jadeja the strike.
With two balls remaining, India needed just one more run to win.
Jadeja, however, ended up scooping the ball for a regulation catch at midwicket, cutting short India's joy and sending Afghanistan players into ecstasy.
This was the first-ever tied ODI in the Asia Cup!
As for surprises earlier into the match, MS Dhoni walked out for the toss instead of skipper Rohit Sharma, who had been rested for the match along with Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal. It happened to be the 200th time that the wicketkeeper-batsman – who relinquished his captaincy nearly two years ago – was leading India in ODIs. But that, he said, was “all destiny”.
Before this draw, India had already booked a spot in the final of the tournament after registering wins over Pakistan and Bangladesh in the Super Four stage. Afghanistan, on the other hand, lost all hope of making it through after losing both their matches.
Opener Mohammad Shahzad had set up the game for Afghanistan with a whirlwind 124 off 116, the most significant hundred of his career, to take his team to 252 for eight. He hammered 11 fours and as many as seven sixes.
The experienced Mohammad Nabi produced a handy knock, 64 off 56 balls, towards the end, ensuring a competitive total for his team.
While his opening partner Javed Ahmadi was struggling to get even a single, Shahzad thoroughly entertained the crowd with a barrage of big hits. He was ruthless against the Indian bowlers, especially against the rookie Indian pacers Khaleel Ahmed, Siddharth Kaul and debutant Chahar – replacements for the rested players.
Chahar had a forgettable debut even though he picked up a wicket.
Afghanistan would have been in deep trouble if it were not for Shahzad, who was running out of partners at one stage with his team reeling at 82 for four from 65 for no loss after Indian spinners Kuldeep Yadav (2/38) and Ravindra Jadeja (3/46) came into play. The chinaman was even on a hat-trick.
Shahzad was then joined by Gulbadin Naib (15 off 46) and the two shared a 50-run stand for the fifth wicket.
After his dismissal, Nabi started plundering the bowlers, hitting four sixes and three boundaries to help the team cross 250.
Ambati Rayudu (57 off 49) and Lokesh Rahul (60 off 66) shared 110 runs for the opening wicket and at that stage, it seemed India would win it in a canter. However, the openers departed in quick succession, leaving their team at 127 for two in the 21st over.
Rahul perished while attempting a reverse sweep off Rashid Khan and ended up wasting a LBW review when he was plumb in front. Dinesh Karthik (44) came in at three and MS Dhoni (8) batted at four. The review that was squandered by Rahul would have been better used for Dhoni and Karthik, who both fell to questionable LBW decisions. The ball was clearly missing the stumps in Dhoni's case.
Karthik's dismissal left India at 205 for six, leaving them to get 46 off 60 balls with Rashid still to bowl three overs.
Jadeja's sensible batting took his side closer to the finish line with 13 needed off 12 balls. The pressure on India was conspicuous, as they suffered two needless run-outs of Kuldeep Yadav and Siddharth Kaul. In the end, a tie was an apt result for the humdinger.