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Super…super…India’s super win over Afghanistan in the third T20I: clinch the series 3-0

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India beats Afghanistan in third T20 International after two thrilling super overs in Bengaluru

India beat Afghanistan in the third T20 International after two thrilling super overs in Bengaluru last night. Chasing 212, Afghanistan too ended with the same score.

India equaled Afghanistan’s score of 16 in the first super over to stretch the match, but the visitors could not chase down a target of 12 in the second super over as Rohit Sharma’s side picked the required two wickets through Ravi Bishnoi. 

Earlier, riding on skipper Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten 69-ball 121 and Rinku Singh’s 69 off 39 deliveries, India staged a remarkable recovery to post 212 for four after slipping to 22 for four in the fifth over.

In reply, Afghanistan also ended at 212 with Gulbadin Naib hammering a 23-ball 55 to lead his team’s stunning comeback.

Fareed Ahmed Malik was the most successful bowler for Afghanistan, ending with excellent figures of 3 wickets for 20 runs, even as his colleagues were taken to the task by Rohit and Rinku. With this thrilling victory, India won the series 3-0.

A game that saw 424 runs scored across 40 overs at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru came down to a Super Over. And then another. Afghanistan, who were fresh from levelling India’s mammoth 212 in the 20 overs, rode the adrenaline against Mukesh Kumar in the first Super Over, getting 16 runs from it.

India hit back by equalising that and dragging the fixture into another Super Over. However, when Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi and Rahmanullah Gurbaz walked out, the target of 11 runs looked rather easy to get given how well Afghanistan had flexed their big-hitting muscles all evening. Nabi, who took strike, in particular was brutal during the chase with a 27-ball 42.

Rohit took a massive punt by throwing the ball to Ravi Bishnoi, and the leg spinner earned his captain some sweet vindication. Rahul Dravid later lauded the skipper for taking a positive gut call in such a crunch situation to secure the game.

“I think Rohit went with his gut, he went with a call… I think he felt that the spinner had a better chance to take those two wickets. It was one of games when 11 wasn’t probably a huge score and where you know that if they batted those six balls, with the power they had, they probably would’ve got the 12 runs. You needed to take two wickets,” Dravid said.

Bishnoi did just that by pulling his lengths back and making it hard for the batters to clear the boundaries even in a venue like the Chinnaswamy stadium.

“The pressure was there, the heartbeat was racing, but I was confident about getting the job done. I was told by the captain that I’ll bowl – I knew it wouldn’t be easy for them if I bowl back of the length ball, it would be tough to smash on the back-foot. It gives a lot of pleasure to defend during the super overs,” the leg-spinner said at the presentation ceremony.

Dravid echoed those thoughts, praising both Rohit – for taking the decision – and Bishnoi – for pulling off those lengths accurately.

“I think it was a great call from the skipper to go with the spinner,” Dravid said. “He could’ve gone for two sixes but I thought Bishnoi was brilliant, because he bowled two superb balls. He pulled the length back… if the length had gone slightly fuller, the way they were batting, on this small ground it would’ve gone for a six. I think it was really good gut call from Rohit to go for the wickets and be more positive rather than probably a safer option which people would’ve expected.”

Before the proceedings culminated in such a sequence of events, there was a brief moment of confrontation during the first Super Over. On the last ball, Mohammad Nabi swung and missed a full ball but dashed off for a run. Sanju Samson’s underarm throw from behind ricocheted off Nabi’s leg and the two Afghanistan batters picked a couple of more runs, much to the annoyance of Rohit and Virat Kohli. Rohit even had a word with Nabi who didn’t seem to see any issue with what had transpired as three runs were added to Afghanistan’s total. Dravid played down the incident as being part of a game such as this where emotions ran high.

“It’s fine. It’s part of the game. Some frustrations at times can happen but it is okay. It hit the non-striker and then it moved and I think it is fine, you know, you can run for those,” Dravid opined. “To be honest, in the first T20I there was an incident where it hit the bat of our batsman and we ran a run as well. I think there’s nothing to read into, there’s nothing in the rules that stops you from actually running those runs. That’s fine, it’s part of the game.”

“It can happen at the end. I think sometimes when you play for your country, there’s so much passion and emotion. I think it is incredible that even in dead-rubber games when it gets down to the wire, that competitiveness comes out, that passion comes out,” Dravid added, lauding the show of passion from both sides.

“As long as it doesn’t cross the line… that’s why we have match referees and people who are there to look at these things. I think sometimes a little bit of that passion and emotion is really important. It shows that people care. I think as long as it doesn’t cross the line, it’s great.”

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