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India’s dominating victory over Afghanistan set a record

In their 2023 World Cup match on Wednesday (October 11) in Delhi, India destroyed Afghanistan by 8 wickets, inspired by captain Rohit Sharma's record-breaking 131. India exceeded the goal with 15 over remaining to move up to second place in the points standings. Rohit took charge of the chase right from the PowerPlay, quickly dispatching Afghanistan's 272/8.

The combination of short boundaries, a quick outfield, a flat wicket, a low target, and dew created the ideal conditions for Rohit, who destroyed not only Afghanistan's attack but also a number of records. In the course of his brilliant 84-ball innings, Rohit broke Sachin Tendulkar's record for the most World Cup hundreds (six), became the top six-hitter in international cricket, surpassing Chris Gayle's total of 553, scored India's fastest World Cup century in 63 deliveries, and more.

India had only 13 from the first three overs of their chase when Rohit opted to take the assault to the opposition alone, so it wasn't off to a fast start. Fazalhaq Farooqi had to be removed from the attack almost away after giving up 31 runs in the span of just 10 balls, including four boundaries and two sixes. After dropping a six and a four respectively in the following two, Naveen-ul-Haq and Azmatullah Omarzai experienced the same fate. The captain passed 1000 runs since he scored most of the runs during his stay, but it took Ishan Kishan nine balls to establish his account in World Cups. Powerplay gave India 94 points, of which Rohit scored 76 on his own.

Amidst all the carnage, Afghanistan

despite the legspinner having a great record against Rohit in the other white-ball format (four dismissals), oddly kept back Rashid Khan until the 15th over. By that time, India's asking rate had decreased to a fairly comfortable 4.08, and the Indian captain had already raced to 88 off 52. Ishan Kishan was only three runs away from a half-century, but Rashid did not disappoint. Rohit ultimately succumbed to his googly too, but not before he joined the fray. Rohit's onslaught was so persistent that, with perfect timing, he really flicked one way over midwicket for a maximum.

India had already surpassed 200 runs when Rohit was bowled in the 25th over. With an unbroken 72-run stand, Virat Kohli (55*) and Shreyas Lyer (25*) built on that foundation to lead India to victory with no additional setbacks. The longest shot of the tournament so far, Lyer's 101-meter strike against Mujeeb, stole the show on a night where Rohit poured sixes. Soon later, Kohli finished the process by starting his world cup with back-to-back fifties.

Hashmatullah Shahidi (80) and Omarzai (62) had earlier in the day saved Afghanistan from a shaky 63/3, but after choosing to bat, they could only manage 272/8 thanks to Jasprit Bumrah's greatest World Cup haul of 4-39. For the bulk of the middle overs, the two half-centurions were able to stave off the Indian attack, but Bumrah's reappearance at the end prevented them from mounting a comeback.

With the dismissal of Ibrahim Zadran during his four-over stretch on the powerplay, which included 19 dots, Bumrah had prevented the possibility of a strong stand. Despite India's review, the Afghanistan opener avoided a close LBW call early on, but the pacer eventually had him nicking behind after a few fluid drives in his 22. Rahmanullah Gurbaz reached the team's fifty in the eleventh over but was dismissed shortly after by Hardik Pandya, ending another potential partnership. Just after the drinks break, Shardul Thakur trapped Rahmat Shah in front two balls later, dropping Afghanistan to 63/3.

Afghanistan's innings was revived by the captain and a newly promoted Omarzai's fourth-wicket partnership. However, the pair did take a moment to settle down before pressing the accelerator. Afghanistan had gone 11 overs without a boundary until Shahidi took a calculated gamble by slogsweeping Ravindra Jadeja because he knew India was down one defender inside the ring. When Omarzai went on Kuldeep Yadav in the 25th over, he finally broke the chains by lofting him down the ground twice in three deliveries. Afghanistan increased their run rate by scoring 89 runs in the following 10 overs. The pair prevailed in the middle-overs contest, reaching their individual half-centuries their route to becoming Afghanistan's second-best World Cup partnership.

The India vice-captain struck back hard in his next over by removing Omarzai, putting an end to the tenacious partnership. Shahidi had dutifully dispatched the two short balls from Pandya to achieve his half-century. When Kuldeep rejoined the attack, it was impossible for Afghanistan to regain the same momentum. This further slowed them down. The spinner troubled the Afghanistan captain a few times before finally trapping him LBW on 80 to end a magnificent performance of 10-0-40-1.

Bumrah's resurrection after his death portended more calamity. Afghanistan dropped to 235/7 from 184 for 3 in the 35th over as India's star pacer dismissed both of Afghanistan's heavy hitters, Najibullah Zadran and Mohammad Nabi, in the same over. Mujeeb ur Rahman and Rashid Khan made a brief attempt to threaten, but Bumrah stopped the latter's enjoyable cameo on page 16, limiting Afghanistan to a meager 272/8.

Short scores: India 273/2 in 35 overs (Rohit Sharma 131, Virat Kohli 55*; Rashid Khan 2-57) defeated Afghanistan 272/8 in 50 overs (Hashmatullah Shahidi 80, Azmatullah Omarzai 62; Jasprit Bumrah 4-39, Hardik Pandya 2-43) by 8 wickets.

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