In a stunning display of cricket prowess, led by Captain Rohit Sharma’s record-breaking innings of 131, Team India clinched a resounding 8-wicket victory over Afghanistan in the 2023 World Cup match held in Delhi on Wednesday, October 11.
Right from the PowerPlay, Rohit Sharma asserted his dominance, swiftly dismantling Afghanistan’s target of 272/8. India achieved this feat with a whopping 15 overs to spare, propelling them to the second position on the points table.
A combination of factors created the perfect environment for Rohit’s outstanding performance. Short boundaries, a quick outfield, a flat wicket, a modest target, and the dew factor all came together in harmony. In the course of his remarkable 84-ball innings, Rohit achieved several milestones. He became the highest six-hitter in international cricket, surpassing Chris Gayle’s record of 553 sixes. Additionally, Rohit set a new record for the fastest century in a World Cup for India, taking just 63 deliveries. He also surpassed Sachin Tendulkar’s record for the most centuries in a global event, amassing a total of six.
The chase didn’t begin briskly, with India scoring just 13 runs in the first three overs. However, Rohit decided to take matters into his own hands, delivering a relentless onslaught on the Afghan attack. Fazalhaq Farooqi was swiftly taken out of the attack after conceding 31 runs in only 10 balls, which included four boundaries and two sixes. Naveen-ul-Haq and Azmatullah Omarzai suffered a similar fate after conceding boundaries. Despite taking nine balls to open his account in World Cups, Rohit Sharma took charge, amassing 76 runs from the Powerplay alone.
Curiously, Afghanistan held back Rashid Khan until the 15th over, despite his excellent record against Rohit in other white-ball formats, where he had dismissed the Indian captain four times. By then, Rohit had already raced to 88 off 52 balls, and India’s required run rate had dropped to a comfortable 4.08. Rashid did eventually dismiss Rohit, denying Ishan Kishan a half-century by just three runs. However, Rohit had already left a mark by flicking a maximum well over midwicket with impeccable timing.
At the time of Rohit’s dismissal, India had already crossed the 200-run mark in the 25th over. Virat Kohli (55*) and Shreyas Iyer (25*) built on this solid foundation with an unbeaten 72-run partnership, ensuring India’s victory without further hiccups. In a night where Rohit rained sixes, it was Iyer’s monumental 101-meter hit off Mujeeb, the largest of the tournament, that stole the spotlight. Kohli then completed the formalities with back-to-back fifties to kickstart his World Cup campaign.
Earlier in the day, a partnership of 121 runs between Hashmatullah Shahidi (80) and Omarzai (62) rescued Afghanistan from a precarious 63/3. However, Jasprit Bumrah’s remarkable performance, with his best World Cup haul of 4-39, restricted Afghanistan to a total of 272/8 after they opted to bat.
Bumrah, in his four-over spell during the powerplay, consisting of 19 dot balls, played a pivotal role by dismissing Ibrahim Zadran. The fourth-wicket partnership between Captain Rohit Sharma and Azmatullah Omarzai resurrected Afghanistan’s innings. While Shahidi and Omarzai took their time initially, they accelerated later. Omarzai broke the shackles by taking on Kuldeep Yadav, lofting him down the ground. Over the next 10 overs, Afghanistan increased their run rate, and both batsmen reached their half-centuries, forming Afghanistan’s second-best partnership in World Cups.
Though Shahidi dispatched two short balls from Hardik Pandya to reach his half-century, Bumrah returned to dismiss Omarzai and slow Afghanistan’s momentum. Kuldeep Yadav further restricted Afghanistan by troubling their captain, ultimately dismissing him LBW for 80.
Bumrah’s return in the final stages of the innings created additional difficulties for Afghanistan. From 184 for 3 in the 35th over, Afghanistan stumbled to 235/7 as Bumrah accounted for both of Afghanistan’s big-hitters, Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi, in the same over. Although Mujeeb ur Rahman and Rashid Khan provided a brief threat, Bumrah ended Rashid’s entertaining cameo on 16, limiting Afghanistan to a modest total of 272/8.
In summary, Afghanistan posted 272/8, with Hashmatullah Shahidi scoring 80 and Azmatullah Omarzai contributing 62, while Jasprit Bumrah starred with figures of 4-39. In response, India chased down the target comfortably, finishing at 273/2 in just 35 overs, thanks to Rohit Sharma’s extraordinary 131 and Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 55. Rashid Khan claimed 2 wickets for Afghanistan.
[End with the match‘s brief scores: Afghanistan 272/8 in 50 overs, lost to India 273/2 in 35 overs by 8 wickets.]