SOUTHAMPTON: Mohammed Shami’s hat-trick denied Afghanistan a historic and shock World Cup victory over India in Southampton on Saturday. India looked in danger of losing when Afghanistan struck a boundary off the first ball of the final over to move to within 12 runs of victory. However, Shami had Mohammad Nabi caught on the boundary for 52 before demolishing the stumps of numbers 10 and 11 with searing yorkers.Defeat eliminated Afghanistan, while India moved above England into third. Afghanistan, appearing at only their second World Cup, lost the toss but restricted India to 224-8 in their 50 overs, giving themselves a genuine chance for a huge upset.
They were well set at 106-2 in the 29th over, even though the run-rate was starting to edge up, but two wickets in one over from paceman Jasprit Bumrah removed Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi. Nabi and Najibullah Zadran batted sensibly to keep their side in the hunt, but when Zadran was caught by Yuzvendra Chahal off Hardik Pandya, Afghanistan were 166-6 in the 42nd over.
Nabi was still there in the final over, with 16 required and drilled Shami’s first ball down the ground for four. With an incredible triumph within touching distance, Nabi was caught by Pandya at long on two balls later. Shami then clean-bowled Aftab Alam and Mujeeb Ur Rahman to seal a nerve-jangling win with a hat-trick.
“This win is right up there. We thought 250 was par and 270 would have been an outstanding effort. A team like Afghanistan doesn’t let you play how you want to play,” India captain Virat Kohli said. “At the halfway mark we had some doubts in our mind but everyone had belief in the changing room.”
Frustrated Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib added:”We bowled really well. We did well in batting, but credit to Bumrah for how he bowled in the last two or three overs.”
“The total was not that much but you need 80s or 100s – 30 or 25s are not enough. If you chase 250 then middle order batsmen should go longer and take responsibility.”
Earlier, an increasingly fraught India were furious when the umpire turned down a huge lbw shout at the start of the 29th over from Bumrah, who rapped Rahmat on the pads – Virat Kohli’s side had no reviews left. Just three balls later Rahmat, on 36, top-edged a hook and Chahal took a fine low catch running in from fine leg, sending the massed ranks of flag-waving Indian supporters wild.
With his final ball of the over Bumrah turned the game sharply back in India’s direction when Shahidi could only offer up a simple caught-and-bowled chance and he departed for 21. Bumrah – the world’s top-ranked one-day international bowler – finished with figures of 2-39 from his 10 overs, bowling superbly at the death. Shami finished with figures of 4-40.
“When the captain has so much trust in you, it gives you a lot of confidence to express yourself. That helps me keep a clear head,” man-of-the-match Bumrah said. “There was reverse swing, so you had to rely on your yorkers.”