India looked to add to their collection of gold medals by defeating Afghanistan in the Asian Games final. The young side studded with budding talents has been showing plenty of promise throughout the tournament. But the Afghans pose a threat to any side with their own brand of daredevil cricket. The hunt for the podium reaches its crescendo with India clashing against the Afghans for the gold medal in the 2023 Asian Games.
India chose to stick to their winning combination as they eyed gold in the men’s cricket category. Afghanistan was not an easy side to beat especially when they have a lot of internationally experienced players in the eleven.
- Ruturaj Gaikwad (Cap.) 2. Yashasvi Jaiswal 3. Tilak Varma 4. Jitesh Sharma (WK) 5. Shivam Dube 6. Rinku Singh 7. Washington Sundar 8. Shahbaz Ahmed 9. Rinku Singh 10. Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore 11. Arshdeep Singh
- Zubaid Akbari 2. Mohammad Shahzad (WK) 3. Noor Ali Zadran 4. Shahidullah 5. Afsar Zazai 6. Karim Janat 7. Gulbadin Naib (Cap.) 8. Sharafuddin Ashraf 9. Fareed Ahmed 10. Zahir Khan 11. Qais Ahmed
India won the toss and elected to bowl first on a wicket that had been challenging the batters with uneven bounce.
|Venue||The game was played in the ZJAT Cricket Field, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.|
|Date||The game started at 11:00 am onwards on Friday, October 6.|
Captaincy & Tactics
The Afghan batter came out in the middle with an objective to score quick runs from the beginning. It proved to be a disaster for them because the Indian bowlers were bowling with verve and accuracy. Only the pair of Gulbadin and Shahidullah were able to score some runs.
The Indian skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad used his seamers sparingly over the course of the Afghan innings. Shivam Dube was allowed to bowl only one over since the pitch was favoring the spinners. Bishnoi’s plan of bowling wicket to wicket on a tight line proved effective.
Afghanistan Cricket is known for its flamboyant and intrepid brand of cricket. However, Hangzhou is not a ground where the ball comes to the bat easily. The average first innings score is under 120, so it is necessary to remain cautious in the first hour. There is uneven bounce and a hint of turn. The Afghan batters seemed to be oblivious to these facts and paid the price. First Akbari and then Shahzad got out by batting cheaply.
Noor Ali came and went back after some poor running between the wickets. Shahidullah started to rebuild the innings with Afsar Zazai. The duo’s stand of 37 came to an abrupt end with a world-class delivery by Ravi Bishnoi.
Gulbadin Naib was finding runs by playing the ball across the line. All but 2 of his scoring shots were played on the leg side. He hit a massive six over the “cow corner” and another over the midwicket region. He helped Shahidullah to put Afghanistan strongly back in the game.
Shahidullah played a gem of an innings to rescue his team from dire straits. This was his third international T20 game and his strike rate of 122.09 is an indication of things to come.
The southpaw batter had 78% control over his shots, most of them were played through the square region on both sides. He faced spin on the back foot and 17 of 49 runs came from this particular shot. Indian batters would have relished the challenge of chasing the target down but rain played spoilsport.
Arshdeep Singh has been a revelation for India over the last 12 months in the T20 format. The left-arm swing bowler has played 36 matches for the Indians, picking up 54 wickets at an impressive average of 18.87. He started spectacularly in Hangzhou, swinging the ball in the air and also off the pitch. He induced a miscued shot from Zubaid Akbari who looked uncomfortable out there.
Shivam Dube only got one over to bowl to the batters, but the pace bowler was instrumental in the early collapse of Afghanistan. Mohammad Shahzad likes to bat aggressively and Dube had him caught behind when the explosive wicketkeeper-batsman was trying to find some room to maneuver. Then came the spinners.
Ravi Bishnoi looks like the perfect successor to the Indian spin throne. The 23-year-old spin wizard from Jodhpur is crafty, cunning, and intelligent with a multifarious repertoire. He has already claimed 25 wickets from just 16 matches at an average of 17.08.
The sky’s the limit for the young gun and he bowled the best ball of the match. He deceived Afsar Zazai with a perfectly disguised wrong ‘un, castling his stamps in the process. The 37-run stand for the 4th wicket was broken.
Shahbaz Ahmed claimed his only wicket of the day by bowling Karim Janat out. From that point onwards, the Indian bowlers started to lose grip on the game as Shahidullah and Gulbadin Naib started building a solid partnership.
Indian fielders were agile and smart in preventing strike rotation and doubles. The condition of the ZJUT Cricket Ground outfield has not been ideal, but the fielders adapted well. They had two chances to catch the batsmen out and grabbed the lot. Arshdeep Singh and Jitesh Sharma were the catchers.
Gulbadin Naib’s vast experience on the international stage helped him to bat on a difficult pitch. The skipper will feel aggrieved after missing out on a place on the world cup stage but performed brilliantly with the bat in Hangzhou. Shahidullah also mixed poise and aggression by hitting 2 sixes in his innings of 49.
Ravi Bishnoi continued his excellent form in the tournament, he picked up one wicket and turned the ball at will. Arshdeep Singh and Shivam Dube used the conditions well to get some out of the wicket.
It was a game that promised so much but delivered little. It was a good score batting first on a tricky surface, the Indians would have relished the challenge of chasing down a lofty target. But weather intervened twice and the frustrated spectators left the ground without seeing any resolution to the thrilling contest.
The match was abandoned due to inclement weather in Hangzhou. India won the gold medal for being the higher-ranked team among the two.
Player of the Match
With the match failing to provide any result, no Man of the Match award was given.
|Afghanistan Total: 112/5 (18.2 overs)||India Total: Did not bat|
|Shahidullah 49* (43)|
|Gulbadin Naib 27* (24)|
|Shivam Dube 1/4|
|Ravi Bishnoi 1/12|
India adds to their medal tally after winning the gold medal in men’s cricket. The Indians completed a clean sweep in the cricket category by winning gold in both men’s and women’s cricket. They bowled brilliantly to keep things under control from the beginning. In the end, the weather marred the excitement of a thrilling final and handed the Indians much-deserved first place.