Cricket Article

India Crush Afghanistan to Win Bengaluru Test

India crushed Afghanistan inside two days as the test debutants were given the harshest of lessons by the world’s number one side who won by an innings and 262 runs. It was the toughest of baptisms in test cricket and the only consolation the Afghans can draw it that it can only get easier from here.

All that was ahead of them when they took to the field in Bangalore, having proudly sung their national anthem before the match. However, they spent much of the first day toiling in the field, before fighting back in the final session.

With India winning the toss and deciding to bat, Afghanistan, perhaps afflicted by nerves, could only watch as Shikhar Dhawan blasted a century before lunch, hitting 107 off 96 balls, including 3 sixes and 19 fours.

Together with fellow opener Murali Vijay, the pair put on 168 for the first wicket before Dhawan gave Yamin Ahmadzai his country’s first wicket in test cricket. However, there was little respite for the bowlers, as Vijay and KL Rahul added a further 122 for the second wicket, before Vijay, who had reached the century mark himself, was lbw to Wadafar for 105. Shortly afterwards, Ahmadzai bowled Rahul for 54, as the Afghans fought back.

Then their teenage spinners struck – 19 year old Rashid Khan accounted for the stand-in Indian captain, Ajinkya Rahane, for 10, and then 17 year-old Mujeeb Ur Rahman struck, capturing Cheteshwar Pujara for 35. When they gained the added bonus of Dinesh Karthik falling to a run out by the substitute fieldsman shortly before close of play, they had fought their way back into the match, although, at 347 – 6, India were still in a strong position.

If Afghanistan thought that the first day was tough, that was nothing compared to the second, as any hopes of bowling India out quickly were soon dissipated. Ahmadzai picked up his third wicket of the innings when he had Ravichadran Ashwin caught behind for 18, but Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja added 77 for the 8th wicket, before Jadeja fell for 20. Shortly afterwards Pandya was out for 71, but there was still time for the last wicket pair of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Ydav (26 not out) to add some further late runs before the India innings closed on 474.

The Afghans soon found themselves in deep trouble batting, as the Indian bowlers ripped through their top order, although their cause was not helped when Mahammad Shahzad was run out for 14. Javed Ahmadi fell for a single to Sharma who also accounted for Afsar Zazai, and they tourists quickly slumped to 59 -6.

A stand of 19 proved to be the best of the innings between Rashid and Mohammad Nabi (24), but they had no answer to the Indian spinners and they were bowled out for 109, with Ashwin taking 4 for 27, Jadeja 2 for 18 and Sharma 2 for 28.

India enforced the follow-on and immediately had Afghanistan in deep trouble yet again, as Yadav took the first three Afghan batsmen in quick order, and when Zurmatal fell to Sharma, the tourists had slumped to 24 – 4. A partnership of 37 then ensued between captain Asghar Stanikzai (25) and Hashmatullah Shahidi , but when Stanikzai and then Afsar Zazai both fell for the addition of just one run, the writing was on the wall.

Hashmatullah Shahidi at least managed to score 36 undefeated, but he lacked any support, and the visitors were bowled out for just 103. Jadeja took 4 for 17, and Yadav 3 for 26, with 2 wickets for Sharma.

Afghanistan became the third side in history to be beaten in two days, and joined Zimbabwe in losing all 20 wickets on the same day of a test.

Dhawan was named man of the match.

Sunny c
Sunny C Sports Pundit staff writer

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