India win last Asia Cup match by 8 wickets vs Afghanistan
India walked over Afghanistan on Wednesday in a manner they were expected to, before taking a Thursday morning flight back to India after another abysmal failure at challenging for the winner's prize.
Yet to learn the ways of dealing with various kinds of the turning ball, Afghanistan collapsed to the left-arm spin of Ravindra Jadeja after wobbling against the off-spin of R Ashwin and leg-spin of Amit Mishra. A defeat of Bangladesh already in the bag, the Afghans folded up for 159. India strolled past the score with 17.4 overs and eight wickets at their disposal.
With Jadeja scalping wickets in the blink of an eye on a pitch offering plenty of turn, Afghanistan were in danger of being dismissed for less than 100 after losing five for 64. Samiullah Shenwari, one of their heroes from the historic win over Bangladesh, dropped anchor and dragged the team to a respectable total. The all-rounder even swept Jadeja over fine leg for six.
Shenwari attempted to play Mohammad Shami across the line only to be trapped in front. His dismissal for 50 was the last wicket. On the way back, stand-in skipper Virat Kohli had a quick word with Ajinkya Rahane.
The message meant India would chase with a new opening pair. With Shikhar Dhawan, it was not Rohit Sharma but his fellow Mumbai batsman Rahane.
Dhawan and Sharma have been India's regular openers since the victorious Champions Trophy campaign in June 2013. The initial success presented India hope of having found replacements for Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Since the South African tour, however, the opening stands have dried up. Sharma, especially, hit a rough patch.
The change showed signs of working as the duo produced the team's highest opening stand (121) of the Asia Cup.
Having survived a dropped catch on 28, Dhawan carved out an extraordinary drive off a Dawlat Zadran delivery on middle stump between cover and mid-off for a boundary.
Rahane, at the other end, looked as comfortable as he ever has in his short one-day career thus far. It was his cut over backward point off a pacy Dawlat delivery that evoked appreciation.
But as has been India's journey at the Asia Cup, Rahane (56) and Dhawan (60) fell before the target was achieved, leaving Sharma and Dinesh Karthik to complete the formalities.