Shami hat-trick seals India win | Sunday Observer

Shami hat-trick seals India win

Mohammed Shami
Mohammed Shami

SOUTHAMPTON AFP: India survived a major World Cup scare as they beat minnows Afghanistan by 11 runs thanks to Mohammed Shami’s decisive hat-trick on Saturday.

Virat Kohli’s side, one of the favourites to win the tournament, posted just 224-8 from their 50 overs.

Afghanistan, who had lost their previous five games, made a brave effort to chase down the target.

But they eventually fell just short of a stunning upset thanks to pace bowler Shami, who took the last three wickets in the space of three balls in the final over to move unbeaten India closer to the semi-finals.

India struggled to 224 for eight in their 50 overs. In-form opener Rohit Sharma, who has scored two hundreds so far in the tournament, was dismissed for just one by off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman as unbeaten India made a sluggish start after opting to bat under sunny skies on England’s south coast.

The rest of India’s powerful top order all got established, with skipper Virat Kohli making 67 from 63 balls.

But none went on to play a decisive innings for the two-time champions in front of thousands of their fanatical supporters.

They hit just 16 boundaries -- including only one six -- against an Afghanistan side who have lost all five of the matches in the tournament so far and at times have looked out of their depth.

Off-spinner Mujeeb was particularly impressive, conceding just 26 runs in his 10 overs, while leg-spinner Rashid Khan bounced back from the most expensive spell in World Cup history against England to take 1-38.

Sharma’s dismissal in the fifth over set the tone for the disappointing Indian display.

It brought star man Kohli to the wicket but India remained subdued and limped to 41-1 after 10 overs. India lost KL Rahul for 30 with the score on 64 when he top-edged a reverse-sweep into the hands of Hazratullah Zazai at short third man off the bowling of Mohammad Nabi.

Kohli, who scored half-centuries against Australia and Pakistan, reached his fifty off 48 balls, with four fours. Vijay Shankar was next to go, lbw to leg-spinner Rahmat Shah for 29, leaving India 122-3.