The Telegraph
Thursday , March 6 , 2014
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India end campaign with consolation win

Mirpur: Knocked out of contention for the final, India ended their Asia Cup campaign with a consolation win over Afghanistan, beating them by eight wickets in a lop-sided encounter, here, at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, on Wednesday.

After stand-in captain Virat Kohli opted to bowl, spinners Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Aswhin and Amit Mishra shared seven wickets among them to skittle Afghanistan out for a paltry 159 in 45.2 overs.

India chased down the target in 32.2 overs to win with a bonus point. But it turned out to be too late as defeats against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, followed by Pakistan’s victory over hosts Bangladesh on Tuesday, had already dashed their hopes of making the final.

Ajinkya Rahane (56), promoted to open alongside Shikhar Dhawan (60), set up the chase for India with a 121-run partnership.

Earlier, Mohammed Shami provided India the first breakthrough by dismissing Nawroz Mangal and thereafter it was a one-sided contest as Jadeja ripped through the inexperienced batting line-up to finish with figures of four for 30.

Ashwin (three for 31) also chipped in to fox the Afghans, who will go out with their heads held high after beating Bangladesh during the course of their campaign.

Afghanistan’s innings centred around No. 8 batsman Samiullah Shenwari, who scored a sensible 50 from 73 balls to ensure his team crossed the 150-mark after a top-order collapse left them reeling at 95 for seven.

Having played safe by not fiddling with the playing XI even in an inconsequential tie against Afghanistan, India sent Rahane to open instead of Rohit Sharma, who’s going through a lean path barring a one-off half-century versus Pakistan. The move clicked as Rahane got his runs with proper cricketing shots instead of trying to be too flashy.

Rahane’s batting took the pressure off Dhawan, although the latter got a reprieve on 28.

After Rahane and Dhawan’s dismissal, Rohit (18 not out) and Dinesh Karthik (21 not out) ensured India reached home with ease with as many as 106 balls to spare.

Speaking after the match, Rahane said, “It’s disappointing not to have qualified for the finalů But we have to take it in our stride. That’s the way the game goes. Despite the losses, we have played some good cricket and we will take home a few positives.”