Suryakumar special takes Rohit Sharma's India to big win against Afghanistan at T20 World Cup | Crickit

Suryakumar special takes Rohit Sharma's India to big win against Afghanistan at T20 World Cup

By, New Delhi
Jun 21, 2024 12:06 AM IST

The batter smashes a 28-ball 53 before Bumrah shines with three wickets to set up a comfortable victory in Barbados.

There are occasions in T20 cricket when Suryakumar Yadav seems to operate on a different stratosphere to everyone else. On these days, the bowlers, the nature of the surface and the state of the game are rendered irrelevant as Suryakumar goes about flaunting his genius.

India's Suryakumar Yadav celebrates his half-century (ANI)
India's Suryakumar Yadav celebrates his half-century (ANI)

India’s first Super Eight clash of this T20 World Cup in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Thursday was one such occasion. Afghanistan ended up bearing the brunt as the 33-year-old smashed a sumptuous 53 off 28 balls, laced with five fours and three sixes, to guide India to a total of 181/8 and a 47-run victory. The win helped India open their account in Group 1.

ALSO READ: India vs Afghanistan Live Score, T20 World Cup 2024: IND win by 47 runs

In defence of the target, Jasprit Bumrah (4-1-7-3) exerted control by dismissing openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Hazratullah Zazai cheaply. Always well-equipped with plans for a particular surface, Bumrah didn’t take long to sense what needed to be done. Off the second delivery of his spell, he rolled his fingers on the ball, luring the in-form Gurbaz into nicking to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps. Bumrah's deadly cutter did the trick against left-handed Zazai too.

With Afghanistan losing three wickets within the first six overs, they were clearly up against it in the chase. But they had reason to keep believing till Azmatullah Omarzai and Gulbadin Naib were in the middle. Capable of using the long handle to good effect, the duo added 44 in 37 balls to inject a dose of momentum to their innings.

That was nipped soon enough though by Kuldeep Yadav on his return to the Indian team with a googly that lured Naib into a false stroke. When Omarzai was caught at long-on off Ravindra Jadeja, it signalled a predictable end to the game. Afghanistan were bowled out for 134 in 20 overs.

Before India’s bowlers stepped in, it was Suryakumar who dazzled. Opting to bat first on a bright day at Kensington Oval, India actually had a sedate start. Having made that call at the toss to bat, Rohit Sharma fell in the third over when a heave across the line off left-armer Fazalhaq Farooqi took the bottom of his bat and ballooned high in the air for Rashid Khan to complete a simple catch at mid-on.

If India were able to motor from 25/1 in four overs to 47/1 at the end of the Powerplay, it was because of Pant taking the initiative. Having flicked Farooqi for a four off his first legitimate delivery, the left-hand batter went after Mohammad Nabi in the sixth over. First, he reverse-swept the off-spinner through point for four. Then he brought out the slog sweep and found the deep square-leg boundary. When Nabi shifted his line wider, Pant drilled a ferocious drive through the covers.

Pant tried a reverse sweep against Rashid too, only to miss the ball completely and be adjudicated leg-before wicket. To send India into deeper trouble at 62/3, Virat Kohli didn't get his placement right while trying to loft the ace spinner through cover. The ball went finer than Kohli intended, and he holed out to Nabi at long-off.

Rashid claimed his third wicket when Shivam Dube misread the line of the ball to invite queries for a leg-before dismissal. It seemed initially as though Dube had got an inside edge, which is why umpire Paul Reiffel also turned down Afghanistan's vociferous appeal. But Rashid opted for a review and was proved right on replay.

The flurry of wickets didn't have an adverse effect on Suryakumar's tempo. Off the fourth ball of his innings, Surya hit his first boundary — a spanking sweep off Rashid that rocketed to the deep square leg boundary. It suggested that the world's top-ranked T20 batter is in exquisite touch, and the way he carried on for the rest of his innings confirmed that.

Many sublime shots were part of the package. In the 11th over by Rashid, for instance, he pierced the gap between short fine leg and square leg with a sweep all along the turf for four. One ball later, he again swept but this time aerially to fetch six runs.

More evidence of Suryakumar's brilliance followed against seamer Azmatullah Omarzai. In the 13th over, a full toss targeting the wide line on the off-side was somehow swept towards deep square leg for a four. When the ball was overpitched, Suryakumar launched an expansive drive wide of mid-off and held his pose for the cameras. In Omarzai's following over, Surya unleashed another flourishing drive down the ground for six.

For India to reach the total they did, Hardik also played his part. Much maligned while leading Mumbai Indians in the IPL, he was able to ease some of that pressure with a timely cameo (32, 24b). A highlight was Pandya’s six off left-arm wrist spinner Noor Ahmed that smashed the glass shield in front of the media box as if to make a point. India certainly did.

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