After pulling off a thrilling tie against defending champions India in their last Super Four tie of the ongoing Asia Cup, Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan and his team are considering the result “as a win”. “When you tie with a team like India, it’s like winning. They usually chase easily. It is good for the fans as well,” Asghar said in the post-match presentation ceremony.
Defending 252, Afghanistan managed to dismiss the opposition for the same amount of runs, despite India being 110/0 in the 18th over.
Needing seven off the final over, the Men in Blue had the match almost in the bag when Ravindra Jadeja (25 off 34) hit a four on the second ball. A couple of singles followed with India needing a run off two balls for a 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. The result was also a huge morale booster for Afghanistan, who could have easily been in the final if not for the last over losses against Pakistan and Bangladesh earlier in Super Four.
Earlier, 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. On this type of track, Shahzad played very positive cricket. What we saw today was the real Shahzad, unfortunately, it came in the last match,” said Asghar.
It could so easily have been an uneventful dead-rubber, with Afghanistan out of the tournament and India, who are unbeaten, already having qualified for Friday’s final. But this ODI came to life right from the off, thanks initially to MS Dhoni who rode again as captain of India. Leading the side for a record 200th time, Dhoni noted that Afghanistan’s performance was commendable.
“I think their cricket has gone up a lot,” said Dhoni. “If you see how they’ve continued playing right from the start of the Cup, it’s been commendable. They’re the one country that has risen through the ranks. Good batting by them – how they fielded, how they bowled was impressive.”
The wicketkeeper-batsman, however, pointed out that India didn’t do any wrong in the chase. “I wouldn’t say we went wrong. It was like a game of golf because we started with a handicap, we rested our main players. It was very important for the fast bowlers to fall back to the back of a length area when there was no swing full. We lost 5-6 overs there. Shot selection is also something we could have done better at as well,” he said.
“There were a couple of run-out and there are a couple of things I don’t want to talk about because I don’t want to get fined. A tie isn’t bad for us, we could have been on the losing side,” said Dhoni.
Now, India will face either Pakistan or Bangladesh in their quest for the seventh Asia Cup title on Friday.