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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

T20I: Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli fail, but India’s youngsters step up once again to seal series against Afghanistan

The absence of star leg-spinner Rashid Khan, the Afghans’ otherwise reliable spin attack bears a different look, which was noticed yet again in this series

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 15.01.24, 05:25 AM
Shivam Dube (right) congratulates Yashasvi Jaiswal as the latter departs after hitting a34-ball 68 in Indore on Sunday. Dube remained unbeaten on 63 off 32 balls as the duo stitched a 92-run stand for the third wicket.

Shivam Dube (right) congratulates Yashasvi Jaiswal as the latter departs after hitting a34-ball 68 in Indore on Sunday. Dube remained unbeaten on 63 off 32 balls as the duo stitched a 92-run stand for the third wicket. PTI picture

Captain Rohit Sharma is yet to open his account in the series, perishing for nought even in this second T20I against Afghanistan at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Sunday.

Virat Kohli, coming in place of Tilak Varma in what was his first T20I appearance since November 2022, began with a bang and unleashed a flurry of strokes, but departed only for 29 (off 15 balls) much against the run of play.

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But the youngsters ensured they stood up as India comfortably defeated Afghanistan by six wickets to clinch yet another home series, taking an unbeatable 2-0 lead.

The Afghans, after once again losing the toss and put into bat, reached a competitive 172 which turned out to be their highest T20I total against India. Yet, that was a sub-par total on a belter of a track and on a ground not big enough like that of Mohali.

So, despite a cumulative contribution of only 29 from stalwarts Rohit and Kohli, India romped home with as many as 26 balls remaining.

Thanks to a rollicking 34-ball 68 from opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, who returned in place of Shubman Gill, and a 32-ball 63 not out from Shivam Dube, who brought up his second consecutive half-century and is yet to be dismissed in the series.

The left-handed duo hammered a total of 10 maximums — Jaiswal smashing six of them and Dube four — and forged a 92-run stand for the third wicket which featured some brutal hitting that made a mockery of the 173-run target.

Of course, in the absence of star leg-spinner Rashid Khan, the Afghans’ otherwise reliable spin attack bears a different look.

But by no means does that take the sheen away from the strokes that both Jaiswal and Dube churned out, making sure to cash in even if there was minimal room and width on offer.

Earlier, left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh (3/32) did finish with the best figures among India’s bowlers, but it was Axar Patel’s bowling — 2/17 — that turned out to be key in upsetting the Afghans’ rhythm on a placid track.

Focusing primarily on the wicket-to-wicket line, the left-arm spinner picked up rival skipper Ibrahim Zadran before dismissing Gulbadin Naib (57 off 35 balls), who was playing a gem of a knock.

Importantly, Axar conceded just one four in his spell.

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