Home » Cricket World Cup 2023: Rohit Sharma’s brilliant century powers India to an emphatic win against Afghanistan

Cricket World Cup 2023: Rohit Sharma’s brilliant century powers India to an emphatic win against Afghanistan

Rohit Sharma oozed class and elegance en route to a recording-breaking hundred, leading India to an emphatic eight-wicket win over Afghanistan in the ODI World Cup here on Wednesday.

Hasmatullah Shahidi’s dogged 80 and the young Azmatullah Omarazai’s gutsy 62 took Afghanistan to 272 for eight after opting to bat.

On a batting beauty, India skipper Rohit (131 off 84) was unstoppable and flaunted his envious range of strokes.

His record seventh World Cup hundred off 63 balls helped India gun down the target in 35 overs, giving a big boost to their net run-rate ahead of their third World Cup fixture against arch-rivals Pakistan on October 14.

There are few sights better than Rohit going about his business in full flow and that was on full display at the Feroz Shah Kotla grounds here.

Ahead of his third World Cup appearance, Rohit had spoken about playing a high-risk game and on Wednesday, he reaped high rewards for that fearless approach.

A clear sign of that intent was when he walked down the track to hit left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi for a flat six over wide long off in the fifth over of the chase, completing 1000 World Cup runs in the process. It was also the fastest hundred by an Indian in the 50-over mega event.

For the majority of their 156-run opening stand, Ishan Kishan (47 off 47) had the best view of Rohit’s artistry from the non striker’s end.

The India skipper brought up his fifty with a rasping strike over mid-on off Naveen Ul Haq. Like the rest of the bowlers, Naveen too was guilty of pitching it short far too often and Rohit got his second maximum by pulling him over backward square leg.

One of his five sixes came via the wrong un off star spinner Rashid Khan who was held back till the 15th over with Rohit on the rampage. Out of his 16 fours, his gentle push between cover and the mid-off fielder off Naveen was most soothing to the eyes.

With India racing to 154 in 18 overs, the game was heading in only one direction.

Rashid was once again the only Afghanistan bowler who made an impact, removing a well-set Kishan and Rohit, both falling to his googly.

Virat Kohli (55 not out off 56) too looked good and took the team over the line with an uppish straight drive over the bowler’s head. He and Naveen hugging each other during the chase was an indication that the duo had very well moved on from their altercation in the IPL earlier this year.

Earlier, Afghanistan skipper Shahidi walked the talk as Afghanistan put up a much-improved effort with the bat compared to what they had managed in their tournament opener against Bangladesh.

His 121-run stand for the fourth wicket with 23-year-old Omarzai allowed Afghanistan to post a fighting total.

At 211 for 4 in 40 overs, Afghanistan looked likely to get close to 300 but India bowlers did well to stem the flow of runs.

Jasprit Bumrah was by far the best bowler for the home team, delivering in both the powerplay and the death overs to end with figures of 4 for 39 in 10 overs. This was Bumrah’s best figures in a World Cup game.

The ball did not turn much but Kuldeep Yadav ended with tidy figures of one for 40 in 10 overs.

It wasn’t the smoothest of starts for Afghanistan, who reached 48 for one in the opening Powerplay.

While Bumrah got the ball to talk in his first spell of four overs but Mohammed Siraj leaked 28 runs off his first 24 balls. Siraj ended up conceding 76 runs off his nine overs.

The opening duo of Ibrahim Zadran (22) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (21) collected five boundaries off Siraj, whose ploy of consistently targeting the stumps did not pay off.

Bumrah got the breakthrough with a short of length ball on the off-stump that straightened a shade to take the outside edge off Zadran’s bat.

Gurbaz and Rahmat Shah (16) falling in a space of three balls brought Shahdi and Omarzai in the middle.

The much younger Omarzai, promoted up the order, found the odd boundary while Shahidi played second fiddle.

The highlight of Omarzai’s innings was the ease with which he played the Indian spin duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep. He dispatched Kuldeep for two sixes on either side of the straight boundary in the 25th over.

His third six off Kuldeep came in the 34th over when he picked the Indian spinner’s wrong ‘un and deposited it over long on.

Shahidi, on the other hand, was good with cut against the pacers and his stand out shot was the ramp off Hardik Pandya.

Rashid did come up with some crisp blows towards the end but Afghanistan only managed 61 runs in the last 10 overs with the loss of four wickets.

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