DateLine: 20th September 2012
2012 ICC World Twenty20
India began their ICC World Twenty20 2012 campaign on a winning note by defeating a spirited Afghanistan side by merely 23 runs here on Wednesday night. The Men in Blue, because of their extra-ordinary batting line-up, entered the event as one of the firm-favorites; however, India looked shaky in their first encounter against the minnows.
Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bowl first at Colombo, which turned out to be the right decision. It was immensely entertaining stuff from Afghanistan as their bowlers tested India with pace and bounce. The Indian openers Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag were sent back to the pavilion in a quick succession. The much-hyped Indian batting order could only reach 159, thanks to theeir mainstay Virat Kohli who was also awarded man of the match but had benefited from a catch chance and completed his half century with a six. Yuvraj Singh announced himself with a huge six but he was soon dismissed on 18 by Karim Sadiq as he sliced a cut straight to Shapoor and Suresh Raina had two let-offs while making 38. The catching from Afghanistan was appalling, putting down several chances to leave the crowd pondering what would have happened if those catches had been held.
Afghanistan made a promising start, openers Shahzad and Nawroz Mangal putting on 26 before the former slogged the ball straight to Yuvraj at mid-on. Yuvraj then trapped Mangal lbw with his very first delivery before forcing Sadiq into an aimless hit towards Gambhir. Asghar Stanikzai edged into Dhoni's gloves next ball and though Samiullah Shenwari survived the hat-trick ball, a third wicket fell in six deliveries when he was caught and bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin.
Nabi and Shafiqullah breathed new life into the run chase with giant sixes but the latter soon walked after a contentious lbw decision of Irfan Pathan's bowling as the umpiree failed to see a big inside edge. Nabi's effort of 31, including two fours and two sixes, came to an end in the 17th over as he lifted Ashwin straight to Ishant Sharma. Najibullah Zadran spanked Balaji to the cover boundary but was then run out, with Balaji dismissing Dawlat Zadran to wrap up the innings. Afghanistan's batsmen may not have textbook techniques but merrily threw the bat around and pulled off some breath-taking hits but Yuvraj's double strike in the 12 over sucked the momentum out of the chase.
What if the catches had been taken? What if so many wides had not been bowled? A little more discipline would have taken Afghanistan through, but it was a great fight nevertheless and satisfactory performance by the Afghanistan squad but they could have done better, shot selection was a bit below requirement and some sloppy fielding, took the game away from them.
Afghan captain, Nawroz Mangal, feels that his team made a number of mistakes in the match, which led to their downfall. However, the top-order batsman is not too disappointed and thinks that the bowlers did a reasonable job against one of the world’s best batting line-ups.
On the other hand, while expressing his views during the presentation ceremony, the Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said that he is not getting carried away after beating Afghanistan in their opening fixture of the ICC World T20 2012, and urged his men to improve their game. Although not entirely satisfied with India's performance he feels that his men will have to eradicate their flaws, if they have any chance of regaining the World T20 title.
There is another way to argue the whole scene, the fearless way to go into the match obviously helped Afghanistan play better while India on the other hand, had to be careful to avoid getting embarrassed.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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