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World Cup 2019: A day where cricket was the true winner

  • Two last over thrillers have spiced up this World Cup. Afghanistan gave India a good run for their money in a close encounter
Anurag Hegde
Modified 24 Jun 2019, 10:05 IST
Rohit Sharma was dismissed early in the innings
Rohit Sharma was dismissed early in the innings

They said it would take a brave man to put his money on Afghanistan and that brave man nearly walked away with bucket-loads of cash and a huge grin. But eventually, it was still the Indian side that returned victorious from a battle that they would never have expected to end that closely.

Although the scorecard read an Indian win by 11 runs, it was a different story altogether on the field. The scorecard could have well read an Afghanistan win by 3 wickets. But it wasn’t to be as what nearly could have ended as the greatest upset in World Cup history was instead an uncharacteristic win for India.

It never was supposed to be a marquee game and nearly everyone expected India to steamroll Afghanistan. Virat Kohli elected to bat first on a bright sunny day and on what seemed to be a nice flat batting track. But the pitch had its share of surprises when it showed off its spongy-tennis ball bounce. Afghanistan must be mighty proud of the way they bowled. They picked up an early wicket and never let India build solid partnerships. Once Virat Kohli was dismissed, India’s innings just stagnated and they hobbled along to 224 at the end of their 50 overs.

Now that’s when there were a few nerves all around. The Afghanistan fans sniffed the impossible and there were jitters among the Indian fans. Still, not many gave Afghanistan a chance given India’s bowling attack. Afghanistan needed to bat sensibly and boringly. And that’s exactly what they did. They batted with great resolve and they made India toil hard in the field, until Virat Kohli looked at his bowling gem and tossed the ball to Jasprit Bumrah. Just when things seemed to be getting out of hand for India, Bumrah bowled a brilliant second spell to send two Afghan batsmen packing in the same over.

Afghanistan probably threw a couple of wickets away and the short ball troubled them. However, Mohammad Nabi with all his experience stayed out there and took the game deep and he very nearly pulled off an MS Dhoni. It was a brilliant 49th over from Bumrah that tipped the game in India’s favour. He kept hitting the yorker ball after ball with machine like consistency and that over went for only 5 runs leaving Afghanistan 16 to get off the final over with Mohammad Nabi on strike.

India needed a good over with just 16 in the bank. There was a rush of excitement for the Afghan fans and sparks of jitters among the Indians as the first ball went for 4, needing 12 off 5. Shami had to step up and my word did he! It was a stellar performance from him to pick up a hattrick and close out the game for India without any more surprises.

At the end of the day it was the expected outcome but not in a million years would anyone have expected this. Afghanistan cricket has to be one of the greatest stories in the world of sport. In a country plagued with war and civil unrest, these men found refuge in this great game and they’ve done everybody proud with the show they put out.

Carlos Brathwaite
Carlos Brathwaite's century went in vain as the Windies fell short by just 5 runs

They’ve got to take a lot of heart from this performance and put all issues they’ve got off the field behind them. This is a team with talented individuals and they can take Afghanistan cricket to greater heights. And elsewhere in Nottingham, it was the West Indies that fell shy by just 5 runs against New Zealand on the back off a scintillating century from Carlos ‘Remember the name’ Brathwaite. These two games have really spiced up the tournament and that’s why, at the end of the day, cricket was the true winner.


Also read - World cup all time records

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Published 24 Jun 2019, 01:40 IST
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