India stay alive in T20 World Cup with win against Afghanistan

Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul put up a 140-run opening stand for India

India stay alive in T20 World Cup with win against Afghanistan PHOTO COURTESY: ICC

India posted the highest total of the current edition of the T20 World Cup to ease past Afghanistan in a must-win encounter between both teams.

Batting first, India posted a total of 210/2 after Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul put up a 140-run opening stand after misfiring for the majority of the tournament. Afghanistan fell short of the target by 66 runs.

This win has boosted India's chances of semifinal qualification. However, their qualification still isn't certain as they will have to win the remainder of their matches and rely on New Zealand dropping points.

Sharma (74) and Rahul (69) laid the foundation for the tournament's highest total so far in the Super 12 match in Abu Dhabi.

India raced to 53 in Powerplay to signal their intent in a competition where they need to win all three remaining matches to have any chance of making the semifinals.

Sharma, who had previously managed the scores of 0 and 14 in India's two losses, smashed eight fours and three maximums in an entertaining 47-ball knock which was ended by Karim Janat.

Soon after Sharma's wicket, KL Rahul followed him to the dugout after being bowled by Gulbadin. The momentum, however, was carried by Rishabh Pant and all-rounder Hardik Pandya as the pair put on an unbeaten 63-run partnership.

In return, Afghanistan lost both their openers inside Powerplay cheaply as Mohammad Shahzad (0) and Hazratullah Zazai (13) were removed by Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah respectively.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz showed some intent with his aggressive approach, scoring two boundaries and a six, but was later removed with a catch in the deep by Hardik Pandya for 19 off 10.

Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin returned to the T20I team after more than four years and was in the mix straight away; he removed Gulbadin Naib with a leg-before after he attempted a sweep shot.

Ashwin picked up another wicket in his third over as he removed Najib for Najib Zadran for 11 off 13 balls.

Struggling at 69/5 in the 13th over, Mohammad Nabi and Karim Janat tried to limit the damage by scoring 35 and 26 runs respectively. Karim Janat then played a firey 42-run knock from 22 balls.

Ultimately, the target proved to be too much for Afghanistan to have any realistic expectations of chasing.

For India, Ashwin's performance was a huge boost as he picked up two wickets and leaked only 14 runs. Mohammad Shami picked up two wickets in the death and ended with 3/32 figures from his four overs. Jasprit Bumrah and Ravindra Jadeja also picked up a wicket each.