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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Warm Up Report: Afghanistan vs India – World Cup 2015

For the first half hour at the Adelaide Oval a few Afghanistan supporters who had made it to the ground to support their team cleared their throats and waved their flag high. The Afghanistan bowlers stuck to a good line and worked up good pace to get the Indian openers in all sorts of trouble after India won the toss and elected to bat first. (Useful Link: Warm-Up Results - ICC Cricket World Cup 2015)

Shikhar Dhawan who was finally amongst some runs courtesy a half century in the previous warm-up fixture against Australia, made the long walk back to the pavilion after scoring just 4. An over later, Virat Kohli edged one to the keeper and India’s score read a dismal 16/2 in 4 overs.

Rohit Sharma was then joined by Suresh Raina in the middle and for the next hour and a half; the cricket ball was given a sound pasting. The duo stitched together India’s repair work with a calculative and aggressive approach. As the innings progressed, Sharma began to look ominous, playing the pull shot confidently and at the same time piercing the gaps to perfection.

Suresh Raina, who was promoted to bat at No.4, went about his innings steadily. When the opportunity was there; he went for his shots and they did pay off. He too like Sharma became aggressive once he got his eye in and after long it looked like Raina was finding the sweet spot of his bat. The duo served a severe punishment to the same Afghan attack that had looked promising in the afternoon.

Rohit Sharma brought up his half century and Raina followed suit; the duo put up a 150-run stand and Afghanistan had failed to capitalise on their early advantage. Afghanistan then tried to pull back things courtesy a run-out of Suresh Raina, but that didn’t deter Sharma from continuing the onslaught. He made room for himself, swept when required and played the pull shot to his advantage quite naturally. The pull was one of the major highlights of Rohit’s innings and it came as no surprise that he got to his three figure mark with the same shot.

He marched along from 100 to 150 in a mere 23 balls and finally got out trying to clear the boundary at long-off. The damage had been done by then and Ajinkya Rahane who was unnoticed at the other end all this while too brought up his half century. He along with Captain MS Dhoni took India’s total to 300-plus with Rahane doing the bulk of the scoring. Dhoni’s 26-minute stay at the middle finally came to an end after he holed out to long-on for 10. Rahane kept the Indian fans on their toes with some aggressive shots towards the end of the innings and India’s score read 364/5 at the end of 50 overs. Rahane was unbeaten on 88.

Afghanistan’s reply began with a few positive shots courtesy some wayward bowling from the Indian pacers. Opener Javed Ahmadi in particular looked confident as he struck four boundaries in his innings of 17 but was caught behind by MS Dhoni off Umesh Yadav’s bowling. Usman Ghani and Nawroz Mangal though put up a half century stand to see off India’s pace bowling attack. Dhoni then introduced the spinners and they kept a check on the runs. The slow flow of runs made Ghani take the aerial route only to be caught by a partnership effort between Dhawan and Umesh Yadav. Ghani had scored a gutsy 44 by then. Mangal though, one of Afghanistan’s senior-most players continued to keep the scoreboard ticking and got to a steady half century. Afghanistan in no way looked like getting to the mammoth target but definitely looked intent in taking as much as they could from the warm-up game. They went for the big shots, India dropped a couple of catches in the bargain but that didn’t deter them from taking the odd risk. India began ringing in changes in their bowling chopping and changing the bowlers and using the pacers in short bursts. Mohit Sharma was then brought into the attack, and straight away got his result. Sharma who had stuck to a disciplined line and length, mixing up his deliveries well got Asghar Stanikzai out caught by Mohammad Shami at mid-on. Najibullah Zadran was stumped off R Ashwin’s bowling soon and Sharma returned to pick his second wicket, this time getting the experienced Mangal caught behind. Afghanistan had by then lost three wickets in a space of just seven runs and the wickets continued to tumble making it difficult for the Afghanistan batsmen to score.

Almost all Indian bowlers who got to bowl, stuck to their lines and looked disciplined till the end of the innings. Afghanistan then began to lose their wickets in a heap and could manage only 211/8 at the end of fifty overs; India recorded their first win on the tour. With two warm-up games under their belt, India would have got a fair idea of their playing eleven before the all important clash against Pakistan.

Brief scores:

India: 364/5, R Sharma 150, A Rahane 88*, S Raina 75

211/8, N Mangal 60, R Jadeja 2/38

Result: India beat Afghanistan by 153 runs

source: bcci.tv


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