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Cricket: India clinch gold at Asian Games 2023 after rain washes out final against Afghanistan

Afghans had a jittery start and were reduced to 12/3 inside four overs after their top-three — Zubaid Akbari (5), Mohammad Shahzad (4) and Noor Ali Zadran (1) — fell cheaply

Our Bureau, PTI Hangzhou Published 08.10.23, 10:05 AM
Indian cricketers after winning the gold medal.

Indian cricketers after winning the gold medal. PTI picture

The Indian men's cricket team clinched the gold medal on its Asian Games debut after their final against Afghanistan was called off due to rain, and the Ruturaj Gaikwad-led side was adjudged winners by virtue of being seeded higher in the continental showpiece on Saturday.

Put in to bat, Afghanistan were 112 for 5 in 18.2 overs when persistent rain halted the proceedings at the Zhejiang University of Technology Cricket Field, and the match never restarted from that point.

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The Afghans had a jittery start and were reduced to 12/3 inside four overs after their top-three — Zubaid Akbari (5), Mohammad Shahzad (4) and Noor Ali Zadran (1) — fell cheaply.

Shivam Dube got the first breakthrough when he had Akbari in his first over. Akbari perished going for a hook shot to a rising delivery by the Indian pacer.

In the next over, wicketkeeper-batter Shahzad was caught behind off a delivery from left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh (3-0-17-1).

The Afghans committed a harakiri when Zadran was run out. Shahidullah then revived their innings scoring an unbeaten 43-ball 49 in a partnership with Afsar Zazai (15).

But India struck back when leg-spinner Bishnoi (4-0-12-1) broke the 37-run partnership, cleaning up Zazai with a wrong one.

From the other end, left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed castled Karim Janat for 1.

India skipper Ruturaj said he was "disappointed" with the match being abandoned due to persistent rain.

"It was pretty much disappointing. Obviously, we would have loved to have a full game and get a result through the full game, but it's a thing we cannot control. The match officials came and told us around 5pm. I think we pretty much knew by then because the rain was getting heavier.

"It feels good, I'm very proud. It is something we are not used to, winning a medal. The feeling is slightly different, more emotional for everyone and everyone is really enjoying it."

On what would have been an acceptable victory target for his team to chase, Gaikwad added: "I think 140 or 150 is a pretty gettable target batting second because it's a small ground and the kind of batting we have, we were pretty confident that even 150 would have been chased down."

On captaining the Indian team at the Games, Gaikwad said leading the country is a pressure-laden job.

"Being an India captain is always a lot of pressure because everyone expects the ultimate prize wherever you go. So, I think it does come with a lot of expectations. At the same time you have to make sure you focus on your team and not really think about the outcome of the game.

"With this bunch of guys, they just made my job a little bit easier. It's more about the players than the captain. Whatever the captain decides, it's up to the players to deliver, so everyone just delivered."

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