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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

India clinch double super-over thriller, win series 3-0

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Bengaluru: India scripted a whitewash in the three-match T20I series by defeating Afghanistan in the second super-over of the third and final match at the iconic Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

As many as 423 runs were scored from 40 overs, and there wasn’t a clear winner, sending the match for not one but two super-overs. India clinched the second super-over after putting on 11 runs and then bowled out Afghanistan for one run. Captain Rohit Sharma’s move to bowl Ravi Bishnoi paid off Ravi Bishnoi had Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Mohammad Nabi caught by Rinku Singh off the first and third balls.

Gurbaz could not believe the defeat as his side came very close to victory as his captain Ibrahim Zadran walked off the field in despair.

The match extended to the second super-over after India managed to get 16/1 with Rohit Sharma and Rinku opening the innings. Rohit hit two sixes in a third and fourth ball, reducing the gap further after stealing a single.

Needing two runs off the last ball, Rohit, in a clever move, retired hurt himself and sent in the nimble-footed Rinku, but India could manage only one run, sending the match into the second super-over.

Earlier, a record century by Rohit helped India post 212/4. His last century in this format came in 2018 against West Indies where he scored an unbeaten 111 not out at Lucknow.

With his 121 runs knock, the Indian Captain also became the Indian batsman to score the 4th highest individual score with only Shubman Gill’s 126 vs New Zealand in 2023, Rururaj Gaikwad’s 123 vs Australia in 2023 and Virat Kohli’s 122 against Afghanistan in 2022 before him.

Rinku, at the other end, stayed put to his nomenclature as the finisher. He scored an aggressive 69 off 39 balls with 2 boundaries and 6 sixes, and all these runs sprouted batting alongside Rohit.

Both the mercurial batsmen stitched an unbelievable 190-run partnership for the fifth wicket. A wicket more would have forced India to submit meekly to Afghanistan when they were reduced to 22/4 in 4.3 overs. Yashasvi Jaiswal scored 4, Virat Kohli was gone for a golden duck, Shivam Dube got 1 while Sanju Samson was also dismissed for a duck as India were staring at a collapse.

However, Rohit and Rinku had other plans. The India captain was at his flamboyant best, taking on the Afghanistan bowlers with his bat giving a midas touch every time he contacted the ball, and one of the hits sailed outside the stadium, indicating it was not enough for quenching his thirst after getting dismissed for a duck in the last two matches.

And this ferocity had a reason to erupt after the on-field umpire Virender Sharma declared a leg-bye. He could not control his reaction and he was caught on the stump mic saying, “Hey Viru (Virender Sharma), did you give the first ball as thigh pad – It touched the bat. I have already been dismissed for zero twice.”

The funny side apart, Rohit’s ferocious knock of 121 runs was made in 69 balls by taking the ball for boundary 11 times and clobbering sixes 8 times, which shot his strike rate up to 175.36.

On the flip side, Rinku was quite the opposite in the early stages of his innings. He was a bit prudent but rotated the strike beautifully to seal a booming partnership.

Fareed Ahmad Malik was the most successful bowler for Afghanistan, ending with excellent figures of 3/20, even as his colleagues were taken to the task by Rohit and Rinku.

At one stage, India looked clear-cut winners, despite a 93-run opening partnership by Gurbaz and Zadran

Gurbaz (50) and Ibrahim Zadran (50) set up the platform, but their efforts seemed to be wasted when they slipped to 107 for 3. But Nabi provided the nitro-boost with a 16-ball 34 and then Gulbadin Naib (55) took over, boundaries kept flowing with the batsmen happy to chance their arms.

It all boiled down to the final two overs with 36 needed, Avesh Khan went for 17 in the 19th and Mukesh Kumar conceded 18 in the final over.

For India, Washington Sundar finished with 3 for 18 from three overs, but the others took a beating.

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