A Majestic Dube Guides India to Victory Against Afghanistan in T20 Opener
Shivam Dube roared onto the scene in India’s crowded batting order, silencing any doubts about his worth with a powerful half-century that propelled India to a comfortable six-wicket win over Afghanistan in the opening T20 International in Mohali.
Dube, the left-handed batter, put on a masterclass ahead of the upcoming T20 World Cup in June. His unbeaten 60 off 40 balls steered India effortlessly past the target of 159, with 15 balls remaining.
Winning the toss and opting to field first, India kept Afghanistan’s score in check, restricting them to a modest 158-5. While Rahmanullah Gurbaz (23) and Ibrahim Zadran (25) started well with a 50-run opening stand, it was Mohammad Nabi’s fiery 42 off 27 balls that propelled Afghanistan past the 150-mark.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel spearheaded India’s disciplined bowling attack, claiming 2-23 in his economical four overs.
Chasing the modest target, India faced an early hiccup with skipper Rohit Sharma, returning to T20Is after a year, being run out for a duck in the very first over. A misunderstanding with opening partner Shubman Gill, who was dismissed stumped for 23 later, caused the early stutter.
However, Tilak Varma (26) and Dube found their rhythm, building a solid 44-run partnership to stabilize the innings. Varma’s departure, courtesy of a stunning catch by Gulbadin Naib, couldn’t derail Dube’s charge.
Jitesh Sharma’s quickfire 31 provided welcome support, but the show belonged to Dube. He reached his half-century in 38 balls, celebrating with a monster six, before guiding India home with a winning four.
With this dominant performance, Shivam Dube staked his claim for a permanent spot in India’s T20 lineup. Both teams now shift their focus to Indore for the second T20 match of the series on Sunday, where Afghanistan will look to bounce back and India will aim to build on their momentum.
While Afghanistan put up a valiant fight in the final five overs of their batting innings, their efforts ultimately fell short in the face of a formidable Indian bowling attack. The 158-run total they posted, though respectable, proved insufficient on the batting-friendly turf of Indore’s Holkar Stadium.
The absence of their spin wizard, Rashid Khan, loomed large for Afghanistan. Khan’s game-changing abilities with the ball have often been the difference between victory and defeat for the Afghan team.
Facing a potent Indian batting lineup on a ground known for high scores, the pressure will be immense on Afghanistan’s bowlers. Holkar Stadium has witnessed some of the highest T20 totals in recent years, with scores exceeding 200 runs not uncommon.