India struggle against Afghanistan in World Cup
SOUTHAMPTON – India struggled to 224 for eight in their 50 overs against World Cup whipping boys Afghanistan, failing to get out of second gear in Saturday's group match in Southampton.
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.
Nabi then claimed the prized wicket of Kohli, who was caught by Shah off the bowling of Nabi to leave India 135-4 in the 31st over.
MS Dhoni struggled to find any fluency, hitting 28 off 52 balls before he was stumped by Ikram Alikhil off the bowling of Rashid.
Hardik Pandya went cheaply and although Kedar Jadhav reached his fifty off 66 balls, Afghanistan will fancy their chances of a major shock.
India had made just one change to their line-up after their win against arch rivals Pakistan, with seam bowler Mohammed Shami replacing the injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Afghanistan, bottom of the 10-team World Cup table, made two changes, bringing in Zazai and Aftab Alam for Noor Ali Zadran and Dawlat Zadran.AFP