Rohit Sharma hit 131 as India chased down Afghanistan’s total of 272
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World Cup hosts India cantered to their second successive win of the tournament after captain Rohit Sharma’s incendiary century set up their eight-wicket thrashing of Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Rohit belted 131 off 84 balls, clobbering five sixes and 16 fours, as twice champions India chased down a 273-run victory target with 15 overs to spare at the Arun Jaitley Stadium.
Virat Kohli made 55 not out, sealing the easy win with a boundary as the tournament hosts maintained their red-hot form ahead of Saturday’s much-anticipated clash against arch-rivals Pakistan in Ahmedabad.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, Afghanistan were 63-3 in the 14th over before skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi (80) and Azmatullah Omarzai (62) combined in a 121-run stand to frustrate India.
A total in the vicinity of 300 looked within their reach but Afghanistan lost a clutch of wickets towards the end to settle for a total which proved inadequate against India’s formidable batting lineup.
“It was a good pitch to bat. I was backing myself to play my natural game,” Rohit said after collecting the player-of-the-match award.
“It’s my responsibility to give the team a good start as much as possible. It’s something I’ve done for a while and love. It doesn’t always come off but I need to keep the mindset positive.”
India had to wait until the seventh over for a breakthrough after Hashmatullah elected to bat at a venue, which produced a 754-run slugfest on Saturday.
Jasprit Bumrah (4-39) drew first blood when he had Ibrahim Zadran caught behind for 22. While Mohammed Siraj served the occasional freebies, Bumrah stifled the Afghan batters in his impeccable first spell which read 4-0-9-1.
Following the dismissal of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah forged a 121-run partnership with Omarzai to arrest their slide and frustrate India.
Hashmatullah Shahidi scored 80 for Afghanistan after weathering an early batting collapse
Hardik Pandya hit the top of Omarzai’s off-stump and Kuldeep Yadav removed Hashmatullah to trigger a mini-collapse denying the Afghans a late flourish that could have taken them nearer to the 300-mark.
Rohit became the first batter to smash five hundreds in a single World Cup in the tournament’s previous edition in England and Wales four years ago.
His appetite looked undimmed as the elegant right-hander led India’s chase by example with his dazzling strokeplay.
Fazalhaq Farooqi suffered the most as Rohit stepped out to hit the left-arm quick over the long-off rope and smash back-to-back fours in that same over to set the tone for their chase.
Rashid Khan was Afghanistan’s best bet against a rampaging Rohit but the spinner was introduced in only the 15th over with India sitting pretty at 125 for no loss.
Rohit Sharma took the attack to the Afghanistan bowlers on his way to a seventh Cricket World Cup century
Rohit raced to a 63-ball hundred, taking a single off Mohammad Nabi, but Rashid struck in his third over dismissing Ishan Kishan (47) to break the 156-run opening stand.
Rohit treated Rashid with disdain, hitting him for back-to-back fours and following it with a six, but the spinner eventually had his revenge.
Rohit lost his stumps to Rashid attempting a slog-sweep, but Kohli stayed put to guide India home.
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