World Twenty20: India labour to win as Afghans show they are no push-overs
India 159-5 Afghanistan 136 (India win by 23 runs)
Afghanistan, the tournament darlings, played exactly as might have been expected last night in their opening match of the World Twenty20. They were constantly entertaining, boundlessly enthusiastic and simply not quite proficient enough to overcome India.
In going down by 23 runs they did some splendid things but their shortcomings cost them dear. Four dropped catches and a litany of fielding mistakes are usually insurmountable obstacles against any opponents and India are not any opponents. So it proved. A target of 160 was well beyond even their high-octane sluggers against a prosaic attack.
India will be glad to have this match behind them, however, as will England tomorrow night. There was little in India's display to suggest that they will go far in this competition but they went T20 crazy across the nation after their side, initially reluctant participants, won the inaugural World Twenty20 and the complexion of world cricket was changed forever.
If they are to progress far, their powerful batsmen will be instrumental. Many of them were jaded last night and it took a 39-ball half-century from Virat Kohli to ensure the board ticked over after a poor start.
With five overs gone, Afghanistan had both openers out, courtesy of their left-arm fast bowler Shapoor Zadran, the Logar Express. But in rapid succession Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina (twice) and Kohli were dropped. Two were return catches to the bowler, all should have been snaffled.
The ground fielding grew worse: there were 14 wides and MS Dhoni buckled his swash at the end, finishing the innings with a four and a six.
Afghanistan needed a rapid, wicket-free start. They never quite managed either despite (and because of) Mohammad Shahzad's whirling blade. Yuvraj, returning to cricket weeks after recovering from cancer, took three wickets including two in two balls.
A late flourish from Mohammad Nabi in scoring 31 from 17 balls kept interest if not hope alive. Afghanistan were disappointed but did enough for England to know that nothing but their A game will suffice.
Toni Kroos admits switch to Manchester United is 'a possibility for me'
Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1 - player ratings: Who scored highest for the Gunners – Mesut Ozil or Lukas Podolski?
The 10 funniest football chants revealed, with poll naming West Ham supporters as 'wittiest in the country'
Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1: Arjen Robben accused of being a 'very good diver' by Arsene Wenger after Gunners exit Champions League
Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to Arsenal and England striker
- 1 Boy George: Bad karma
- 2 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 3 First Kiss video: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 4 Rampaging elephant smashes up house but then 'saves crying baby trapped under debris'
- 5 Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to Arsenal and England striker
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised