Yashasvi Jaiswal smashes ton, India enter men's cricket semis on Asian Games debut despite patchy show

Oct 03, 2023 08:37 PM IST

Jaiswal's masterful 100 from 49 balls plus late fireworks from Rinku Singh (37 not out) helped India to 202/4 and in reply, Nepal managed 179/9.

Explosive opener Yashasvi Jaiswal smashed seven sixes in a sublime century as powerhouse India opened their maiden Asian Games campaign with a battling 23-run win against gutsy Nepal on Tuesday.

Yashasvi Jaiswal after scoring a century vs Nepal in Asian Games
Yashasvi Jaiswal after scoring a century vs Nepal in Asian Games

With superstars like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and Jasprit Bumrah at home preparing for the World Cup beginning on Thursday, the world's top-ranked Twenty20 team has a second-string squad in Hangzhou.

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But it is still formidable, packed with promising youngsters who have excelled in the Indian Premier League and a host of players with international experience.

After winning the toss and opting to bat, Jaiswal's masterful 100 from 49 balls plus late fireworks from Rinku Singh (37 not out) and Shivam Dube (25 not out) helped India to 202-4.

Nepal had bludgeoned a record 314/3 against minnows Mongolia in the qualifying rounds, but they could only manage 179/9 in reply, with Avesh Khan and Ravi Bishnoi taking three wickets each.

While cricket has been played at the Asian Games twice before -- at Guangzhou 2010 and Incheon 2014 -- India did not take part.

Bangladesh won the first edition while Sri Lanka are defending champions, with Afghanistan runners-up both times.

Along with Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, India entered the Hangzhou Games in the quarter-final stage.

Jaiswal got them off to a scorching start and were cruising at 103 without loss at an overcast Zhejiang University of Technology Pingfeng Cricket Field.

But when captain Ruturaj Gaikwad fell slogging to deep mid-wicket on 25, it sparked a mini-collapse with Tilkak Varma (two) and Jitesh Sharma (five) soon following.

At the other end, Jaiswal, who played in the Test and T20 series against the West Indies in July, brought up his century off 48 balls, with seven sixes and eight fours.

But the 21-year-old's luck ran out soon after, caught on the ropes by Abinash Bohara going for another big hit.

That brought Kolkata Knight Riders' star Singh to the crease and he slammed 37 off 15 balls in a late flurry that added 64 runs from the last five overs.

A rampant Nepal rewrote cricket history on their way to the quarter-finals in beating Mongolia as the first men's team to score more than 300 in a T20 international.

They then crushed the Maldives by 138 runs, but India's strong bowling unit was a different proposition.

Nepal started brightly and were motoring at 62-1 in the eighth over, but the introduction of leg-spinner Bishnoi put the brakes on.

He snared captain Rohit Paudel for three and crucially Kushal Malla -- who slammed the fastest-ever T20 international century, off 34 balls, against Mongolia -- for 29.

It left Nepal in trouble at 77-4 in the 11th over and while Dipendra Airee (32) and Sundeep Jora (29) did their best it was not enough.

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