The 9th match of the Asia Cup 2014 pitted India against Afghanistan and as many would have hoped the favorites on paper defeated the newest team on the block. What would be more than satisfying than the result is the manner in which it was achieved – India was able to assert its supremacy over the spirited Afghans with a dominant performance and the players would be going home, secure in the knowledge that they gathered some momentum before the all-important World T20 later on in March with this victory, that had an air of inevitability about it.
The toss factor: It is now perhaps common knowledge that the Indian team prefers to field first in limited overs matches so as to shield its bowlers as much as possible. If it is made to bat first it normally does not score much and its weak bowling is unable to defend the total. So far, the Indian team’s performance in this tournament has followed this script and this match was no exception either. India won the toss, bowled first and then chased down the target.
Batting: One of the major problem areas for Afghanistan in this tournament has been its batting and this game was no different as well. Batting first, it could score only 159 and was unable to bat out its full quota of 50 overs. Shenwari was once again the highest scorer with a 50 but apart from a 22 by Mohammad Shahzad and a 31 atop the order by Noor Ali Zadran there were no meaningful contributions that could help the team build up a defendable total.
India, on the other hand, was guided by a decent partnership from the new pair of Rahane and Dhawan who scored a fifty apiece.
Bowling: India was confronted by an inexperienced opposition and this showed in the way the entire bowling unit went about things. Jadeja was the leading wicket taker for the day with 4 wickets to his name and was well supported by Ashwin who grabbed 3 wickets. Shami Ahmed picked up 2 wickets but went for plenty of runs. For Afghanistan, Mirwais Ashraf and Mohammad Nabi picked a wicket each. One feels that the inclusion of Hamid Hassan for this crucial encounter would have been a good one.
What does Afghanistan take away from this match: From an overall perspective this game would not have been as such a pleasant experience for Afghanistan as such.However, everyday is a learning experience and it can be expected that the team would have learnt that its batting is an area where it needs to work harder. It should also understand that having three quick bowlers in a team is an advantage that not many test playing teams have and one should utilize such resources more often not. Fast bowlers like Hamid Hassan and Dawlat Zadran should not be benched barring loss of form or injury. They would also have learnt a thing or two by competing at this tournament and understood how it feels to compete in an international tournament of a higher stature and what it takes to succeed here.