Afghanistan manages to see out the 20 overs, also stretching their score to 111/8. Zadran’s last over hitting off Karthik helps him to an unbeaten 64 off 59, adding some cheer to an otherwise miserable evening. 

50 to Zadran! A cross-batted hoick off Dinesh Karthik brings six and fifty to lone Afghan warrior!

19 overs: 93/8. 
Zadran 46* (53) Fareed 1* (5)

Wicket! Mujeeb bowled Ashwin 18 (13)
Mujeeb’s making a habit of trying the reverse hit. He executes perfectly, finding the fence with ease. But next ball, he steps out for a lavish heave. Ashwin yorks him with a carrom ball. Mujeeb misses, the ball crashes into the stumps. That’s eight down now.

Oh, a flurry of runs all of a sudden. Mujeeb takes 10 of Ashwin, and Zadran throws his bat at a few. Maybe the pair have set a personal target of 100. That’s 20 needed off 18.  

Zadran 40* (47), Mujeeb 14* (11)

Anyway, it’s 57/7. The cheers aside, this has the mood of a funeral now.  

Wicket! Rashid Khan caught Axar bowled Hooda 15 (19)
Hooda rolls his arm for the first time in the Asia Cup, and Rashid Khan gifts him a wicket. As if it needed reiterating, Irfan Pathan, perhaps bored of the proceedings, reminds us that “Afghanistan are in trouble.”  

Ibrahim Zadran and Rashid Khan offer some resistance. But what’s the point of this anyway? I know there is a sense of sporting integrity at play here, but even by the loosest standards of human decency, we should be allowing the Afghan cricketers and fans the fastest way out of this mess. 

10 overs: 34/6

The stadium DJ is blasting Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’. Nothing sweetens the last 31 overs Afghanistan has had in the Asia Cup. 

Wicket! Omarzai caught Karthik bowled Kumar 1 (6)Wave the white flag, my friends! Stop this massacre! Omarzai lobs a slower delivery to Karthik, positioned inside the 5-yard circle. Kumar snaffles five! 

His figures: 4-1-4-5

It’s still only the third-best T20I figures for an Indian bowler. 

Afghanistan 21/6 after seven overs. 

Powerplay: Kumar’s probing spell yields four wickets, breaking through the Afghan spine. With figures of 4 for 4 in three overs, Bhuvi is all smiles. Afghanistan cobbles together 21 runs in six disastrous overs. But spare a thought for them lads; they’d rather be anywhere, bar on a cricket field right now. What a cruel world!   

Wicket! Nabi LBW Arshdeep 7 (7)
Oh dear! Arshdeep gets the ball to jag back into the right-hander. It beats his defence and hits him flush on the pads. We know the rest!

In all fairness, the scheduling has been harsh on Afghanistan. Usually so effervescent, last night’s heartbreak looms on their mind. Drained mentally and physically, Nabi & Co. are on zombie pilot. 19/4 after five overs. Kumar denied a fifth by a whisker! 

Wicket! Najibullah LBW Kumar 0 (4)
Another one bites the dust! Kumar’s swing bowling is near unplayable. An in-dipper traps Najibullah in front of the stumps, looking all at sea. He calls for DRS, but it was just a formality. 9/4 now. High-fives if they reach 20?

Wicket! Janat caught Kohli bowled Kumar 2 (4)
Kumar makes the ball move away a touch, finding Janat’s outside edge. Kohli at first slip to pouch the catch. Afghanistan 9/3 and staring at a rout. 

Wicket! Gurbaz bowled Kumar 0 (1)

Another vicious in-swinger dispels Gurbaz from the crease. It creeps in at pace, bursting through the gap between pad and bat, dislodging the bails. Afghanistan with the worst possible start. 1/2

Wicket! Hazratullah LBW Kumar 0 (4)

Early breakthrough for India. Kumar makes the ball dart into the left-handed batter. Beats his defence and thuds onto the pads. Appeals from Kumar and fielders draw out the umpire’s dreaded finger. Hazratullah reviews, but in vain. 0/1.  

The Afghan innings commences! 

Also Read: Twitter reacts to Virat Kohli’s century against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup

India 212/2

Kohli 122* (61), Pant 20* (16)

Virat Kohli flays the hapless Farooqi in the 20th over. 18 came off the final six balls, adding more final over misery for the Afghan. 

That’s 78 of the last five, Kohli contributing 63 of those runs. 

India post 212/2,  presenting Afghanistan with the steepest of chases. Kohli dedicates the ton to wife Anushka and daughter Vamika. That’s his 71st international century, tying the great Ricky Ponting, whom he’ll surely surpass (I guess).  

20th over: 6, 6, 4, 1, 1, 0. 

200 for India! Kohli dances down, makes room and swats Farooqi for six to bring up India’s 200. 

19th over: 194/2

Kohli 105* (56), Pant* 19 (15) 

He does it in style too. Fareed pitches full and wide, and Kohli thwacks him straight back over his head and into the fence. Follows with a flat pulled-six!

It’s his first hundred since November 2019. His first T20I century, and we can officially declare that he is back!

100 to Kohli!!!

He absolutely is! Taking 13 off Farooqi (15 in total), Kohli moves to 90, the highest score in the Asia Cup. 

Is Kohli angling for a century? 

Kohli continues, unfussed by the fall of wickets. But Pant almost throws his away. Top-edging Fareed’s slower bouncer, he finds Mujeeb at the fence, but the lanky tweaker fumbles the chance: tipping the ball for four. Sloppy. Kohli closes the over with back-to-back boundaries. India moves to 160/2 after the 17th over.

Kohli 77* (46), Pant 14* (13)

After 15 overs, the Afghans have put the skids on the Indian charge. Fareed’s twin wickets have opened the door for the resilient bunch. India at 134/2.

After 14 overs, India are 130/2. 

Kohli* 57 (36), Pant 4* (5)

Wicket! Suryakumar Yadav bowled Fareed 6 (2)

Yadav swaggers in, hits a six behind his back and the next ball chops onto his stumps. Whirlwind!  

Wicket! KL Rahul caught Zadran bowled Fareed 62 (41)

A cross-seam delivery- pitched full by the left-arm seamer- and Rahul mistimes, holding out to Zadran at long-on.  

India 111/0 in 12 overs.

KL Rahul 55* (38), Kohli 55* (34)

50 to Rahul! A one-handed drive dribbles to the boundary. Rahul crosses the half-century mark.

100 to India! Rahul pulls Nabi to the fence. 100 to India. 

50 to Kohli! India’s top run-getter in the Asia Cup brings up his third fifty of the tournament. The duck aside against Sri Lanka, he’s had rich pickings in the UAE. 

10-over mark: Midway through the Indian innings, Kohli and Rahul look in a dangerous mood. Scoring at close to 9, there’s every chance of a big score- 200 or thereabouts. 

KL Rahul 42* (32), Kohli 44* (28)

India is chugging along after the powerplay. Kohli ups the gears but is lucky to be in the middle. Nabi digs in a short-ish ball, and the batter rocks back for a lofted pull. The fielder at the fence allows the ball to slip through his fingers. A little unaware of his bearings- felt he was closer to the boundary than he was- he makes a hash of a takeable catch. 

KL Rahul 37* (28), Kohli 42* (26)

Powerplay: Virat Kohli joins KL Rahul at the top of the innings. A measured start by the Indian pair as they come to grips with the sluggish surface. But as the powerplay progresses, both Rahul and Kohli come into their elements, scoring quicker. The former has been the aggressor, but Kohli unfurls himself too, closing out the sixth over with two boundaries and a six off Mujeeb’s off-spin.

Rahul 26* (20), Kohli 25* (16)


India: KL Rahul (C), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (WK), Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh 

Afghanistan: Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK), Ibrahim Zadran, Karim Janat, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi (C), Rashid Khan, Azmatullah Omarzai, Fareed Ahmad, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Fazalhaq Farooqi 

The Preamble

Ah, the dead rubber derby. India and Afghanistan meet in Dubai for a largely inconsequential match but to give it a shade of meaning, let’s call it a playoff for third place in the Asia Cup. It’s a pity the Afghans lost last night’s cliffhanger against Pakistan. With the game and their finals aspiration in their grasp, young Naseem Shah floored Fazalhaq Farooqi in the final over. Defending 11 runs and needing a wicket to win, in the 20th, the left-armer’s two attempted yorkers did not go to plan. Full tosses both, Naseem belted them for back-to-back sixes, delivering a victory for the Pakistanis in a highly-charged contest. 

India, too, has some heartburn to soothe. Pipped by Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the death, their exit was confirmed when Naseem sealed the win for Pakistan. Regardless, with the proverbial pride and imagined bronze medals to play for, we turn to Dubai’s International Stadium. Afghan captain Mohammad Nabi won the toss, choosing to field first, as expected. It doesn’t bode well for the Indians. Will they return without a point in the Super 4s, or will they buckle the trend and win defending a target? Or will Afghanistan lose three on the trot after a promising group campaign? 

Also Read: What went wrong for India in Asia Cup 2022

Afghanistan goes unchanged, but India has rolled in the replacements. Rohit Sharma sits out, as do Yuzvendra Chahal and Hardik Pandya. KL Rahul is captain for the night. Dinesh Karthik replaces Rohit. Deepak Chahar and Axar Patel get a go in the Asia Cup.