29th over: India 128-3 (Kohli 62, Dhoni 2) Rahmat is taken off, unexpectedly, as Nabi returns and keeps it tight. The Afghanis are managing to keep Kohli off strike, which may be as close as they can get to frustrating him.
A good spot from Romeo. “That’s Rahmat’s 14th wicket in 67 ODIs.”
28th over: India 125-3 (Kohli 60, Dhoni 1) Rashid rushes through his over as Dhoni makes his usual scratchy start. Rashid has 5-0-26-0, which must be sheer bliss after the battering he took the other day.
27th over: India 124-3 (Kohli 59, Dhoni 1) So success for Rahmat, who straightened that one just enough. And here comes Old Man Dhoni, who could easily be putting his feet up now that India have two spare wicketkeepers on board. Gulbadin gives him a slip. Steve Waugh would have a slip, a gully, a short leg and a silly point.
Wicket! Shankar LBW b Rahmat 29 (India 122-3 )
Aleem Dar called it right – hitting leg stump. It’s not the big one, but it’s well worth having.
26th over: India 122-2 (Kohli 58, Shankar 28) Just when the game is threatening to go to sleep, Kohli spots a long hop from Rashid and plays a pull with so much whip that you could serve it on a cone and charge £2.50 for it.
25th over: India 115-2 (Kohli 53, Shankar 27) Shankar chips Rahmat over extra cover, inside-out, for his best shot of the day, and that’s another fifty partnership off 63 balls. A moment earlier, the score predictor was giving India 298. I’d say 330, for what it’s worth: eight or nine an over for the second half of the innings. Come on Gulbadin, conjure up a wicket.
24th over: India 109-2 (Kohli 52, Shankar 22) Rashid continues, which means both batsmen can wear caps. A decent over ends with a googly that squeezes into Kohli’s pads.
“Death, taxes and a Virat Kohli masterclass,” says OB Jato, “the three things that are certain in life.” Is he by any chance related to our friend Abhijato?
23rd over: India 105-2 (Kohli 51, Shankar 19) Gulbadin takes himself off and turns to Rahmat Shah, so it’s leg-spin from both ends. He does have a slip, which is surely right, but Shankar seizes on a half-volley and gets four on the strength of a misfield in the deep.
Where’s Brian Withington when you need him? Right here. “As good hosts,” he writes, “England have done much to help the round-robin stage of this tournament by losing twice already, thereby somewhat alleviating the risk of the dreaded ‘dead rubber’ syndrome. Is it too much to ask that India, as the dominant force in world cricket, show similar consideration today; and perhaps when they play England, too? Just asking.”
22nd over: India 98-2 (Kohli 50, Shankar 13) Kohli, facing Rashid, cruises to fifty off 49 balls, with only four fours but several hard-run twos. It’s the 93rd time he has reached fifty in a one-day international, and the third in succession. What a champion he is.
21st over: India 91-2 (Kohli 47, Shankar 10) The singles keep coming off Nabi. Gulbadin needs to make something happen.
20th over: India 86-2 (Kohli 44, Shankar 8) Gulbadin takes himself off and brings on Rashid Khan. He’s brave enough to toss his first ball up to Kohli, who is ruthless enough to cover-drive for four. Kick a man when he’s down, why don’t you? Rashid actually bowls a good first over, but his desperation shows in a very poor review.
It was a good ball, but there was a big fat inside edge.
Review! For LBW against Shankar
It’s Rashid Khan, with his googly…
19th over: India 79-2 (Kohli 38, Shankar 7) Nabi continues, with not a single close fielder, when Afghanistan’s best hope has to be to keep on taking wickets. If it was stopping the runs, it might make sense, but the singles are flowing.
18th over: India 75-2 (Kohli 36, Shankar 5) Gulbadin tries a slower-ball bouncer against Kohli, who pulls and misses. Between them the bowlers have managed to push him into the middle lane. And that’s drinks, with Afghanistan narrowly on top, but India still threatening to go big.
In other cricket news, England’s women are playing West Indies. Here’s Raf Nicholson’s report.
17th over: India 73-2 (Kohli 35, Shankar 4) An over from Nabi that’s so frugal, it could have been Mujeeb himself.
And here’s John Starbuck, picking up on Abhijato’s point (13th over). “There used to be a case whereby a batsman could object to a substitute fielder in a ‘specialist’ position. Does this still happen? If so, how far does ‘specialist’ extend?” I don’t think it does, but I’m waiting to be corrected, probably by Romeo.
16th over: India 71-2 (Kohli 34, Shankar 3) More singles off Gulbadin, who will be quite happy to see Shankar nicking the strike off the last ball.
15th over: India 66-2 (Kohli 32, Shankar 1) Well done Nabi, who has 2-0-6-1. He and Mujeeb, the two offies, have 2-24 between them, while the seamers have 0-44. In a perfect world, Rishabh Pant would now be striding out to join Kohli. In the real world, it’s Vijay Shankar, who came in against Pakistan to replace the injured Dhawan, and ended up replacing the injured Kumar.
Wicket!! Rahul c Hazratullah b Nabi 30 (India 64-2)
Well, it’s not the one they wanted, but it’ll do. Rahul suddenly pulls out the reverse sweep and gives the easiest of catches to backward point.
14th over: India 64-1 (Rahul 30, Kohli 30) Gulbadin gets milked again, but doesn’t go for any fours.
13th over: India 59-1 (Rahul 26, Kohli 30) Mujeeb is taken off – well, he did concede a four – and replaced by another off-spinner, Nabi. He goes for three singles, and a wide, as the fifty partnership comes up off 51 balls.
If your inbox is ever feeling empty, there’s one person you can count on: Abhijato Sensarma. “If a player is injured,” he muses, “he does not come out to bat and his team sends out just ten men; it shouldn’t be too crazy, then, to suggest that the same team must field with ten fielders as well when the time comes! One possible counterargument to this is that bowling and batting are primary tasks, both of which become impossible to perform on injury, while fielding is a secondary element of the game, but the point persists. This year’s IPL as well as the ongoing World Cup has seen many substitute fielders do better than the ones they’ve replaced, giving the teams what could be perceived as an unfair advantage. Your thoughts on the matter?” A word to the wise, Abhijato: choose your battles.
12th over: India 55-1 (Rahul 24, Kohli 29) Gulbadin gives up on slips altogether, which is modest (as he himself is the bowler) but surely too deferential. Kohli is finding it all too easy, motoring along at three runs every two balls, while Rahul and Sharma together have gone at one every two. So Afghanistan simply have to get Kohli out.
11th over: India 49-1 (Rahul 22, Kohli 26) Mujeeb finally concedes a four, off his 36th ball, as he dishes up a full toss onto Kohli’s pads and the gift is gratefully accepted. Kohli has 26 off only 16 balls: anything Eoin can do…
10th over: India 41-1 (Rahul 20, Kohli 20) Does Kohli ever run out of motivation? He’s right in the mood now, getting way forward to cover-drive Gulbadin’s first ball for three. He has caught up with Rahul already, after facing just 12 balls, to Rahul’s 38. The powerplay ends with Afghanistan entitled to feel very pleased with themselves, while just ruing that fateful field change.
9th over: India 36-1 (Rahul 19, Kohli 16) Same old story: another over from Mujeeb goes for two singles.
8th over: India 34-1 (Rahul 18, Kohli 15) Gulbadin is giving the batsmen singles to midwicket, perhaps in an attempt to get them LBW. Kohli just sees the gap and thinks “I’ll have two there”. Then he flicks Aftab for four and back-foot-drives him for four more. We have two completely different ballgames going on at the same time.
7th over: India 20-1 (Rahul 17, Kohli 2) Mujeeb is still asking questions and commanding respect. He has figures of 4-0-8-1, which would be superb in any ODI, let alone a World Cup game against India.
6th over: India 18-1 (Rahul 16, Kohli 1) India, the grandest of all the cricket nations these days, reassert themselves as Rahul forces Aftab for four. Gulbadin blinks and tinkers with the field, moving first slip out, keeping second – and a regulation edge goes straight through the gap. Oh dear.
5th over: India 9-1 (Rahul 7, Kohli 1) So Afghanistan’s bowlers, far from being cowed by the battering they took from England, have bounced back and made a textbook start. Now they just need five more wickets to get down to India’s long tail.
Wicket! Sharma b Mujeeb 1 (India 7-1)
Beauty! Sharma, who never got going, is utterly bamboozled by Mujeeb’s carrom ball, which pitches on off stump, grips,d turns and takes out the off bail.
4th over: India 7-0 (Rahul 6, Sharma 1) Aftab isn’t quick, around 82mph, but he’s busy and bustling and gets some lift. He keeps KL Rahul quiet and gets a maiden.
3rd over: India 7-0 (Rahul 6, Sharma 1) An even thriftier over and another moral victory for Mujeeb as Rahul plays a curious shot, a mistimed top-spin forehand that goes close to the man at short midwicket.
2nd over: India 6-0 (Rahul 5, Sharma 1) It’s seam at the other end in the shape of Aftab Alam. He’s wearing a headband, half red and half green, like a boy in the back yard saying “I’m McEnroe. And Viv Richards.” Three off the over again, with Rahul pushing into the covers for a couple.
1st over: India 3-0 (Rahul 2, Sharma 1) The new ball is taken by Mujeeb, the teenaged off-spinner who was Afghanistan’s best bowler against England. He makes a tidy start, conceding three singles and drawing a leading edge from Rohit Sharma. The pitch looks slow.
Just the one change for India, and that’s enforced, as Mohammad Shami comes in for the injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar. So there’s no Pant, unfortunately for the crowd, and India have a long tail. The Afghan bowlers’ job is to get down to it.
Gulbadin makes two changes, bringing back Hazratullah at the top of the order and Aftab at the bottom. Dawlat, the man who dropped Eoin Morgan on 28, pays the price, as if he hadn’t already. But it’ll be good to see Hazratullah, who is 21 (thanks for the correction, Romeo) and already on his second career. His first was as a security man, aged 15, working nights. He had internet access and used the time to study his favourite players.
India 1 Sharma, 2 Rahul, 3 Kohli (capt), 4 Shankar, 5 Dhoni (wkt), 6 Pandya, 7 Jadhav, 8 Kuldeep, 9 Shami, 10 Chahal, 11 Bumrah.
Afghanistan 1 Hazratullah, 2 Gulbadin (capt), 3 Rahmat, 4 Hashmatullah, 5 Afghan, 6 Nabi, 7 Najibullah, 8 Rashid, 9 Ikram (wkt), 10 Aftab, 11 Mujeeb.
Toss: India bat first
Kohli wins the toss and chooses to bat. Gulbadin, still smiling, says he would have done the same.
Morning everyone and welcome to what may well be the perfect mismatch. It’s the strongest team in the World Cup so far against the weakest. But the last time India met Afghanistan, in Dubai last September, the result was… a tie. On behalf of the neutrals, I’m putting in a request for another one of those.
A cup isn’t a proper cup without a few upsets. England have done their best as hosts to make the party go with a swing, by stumbling to defeat against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But those two games are the only ones in which a team from the top four has lost to one of the other six. Today, for the sake of the tournament, West Indies need to beat New Zealand, who have a 100pc record when they get onto the field. The same is true of India, but the chances of Afghanistan springing a shock do look a bit remote.
For Virat Kohli, who missed the tie in Dubai, the question is whether to rest any of his big guns and give a World Cup debut to Rishabh Pant. Rest is hardly needed as India have only played three games so far, but England showed yesterday that it’s unwise to keep letting the same batsmen do all the work, because then, when you’re in a tight corner, the spare parts are liable to be rusty and brittle. Pant is a thrilling stroke-player who surely should have been in India’s squad in the first place. He has it in him to be this team’s Geoff Hurst.
For Afghanistan, it’s all about getting over their most recent experience, watching in disbelief as Eoin Morgan scored a century in sixes. “You’re only as good as your last match,” people are apt to say – and it’s nonsense. A firework display is often followed by a fizzle, and vice-versa. Morgan went from hero to zero yesterday; Rashid Khan, his main victim on Tuesday, left nursing a bruised ego and figures of 9-0-110-0, is easily good enough to make the same journey in the opposite direction.
The match is at Southampton, which tends to be a sporting surface with plenty of runs in it. Play starts at 10.30am BST, in about 35 minutes.