Riding on Virat Kohli’s third consecutive half-century, the bowling attack took on the task of defending a meagre total in a bid to elevate India’s position in the points table.
In a track that looked like a belter on appearance, Virat Kohli opted to bat first with a single forced change. Bhuvneshwar Kumar missed out with Mohammad Shami slotted in the eleven.
The pitch was slow and sluggish and claimed its first victim in the form of Rohit Sharma, who was castled by Mujeeb Ur Rahman. The problems persisted for India as no batsman could get going with the spin trio functioning in tandem.
Barring Virat Kohli, no player could adapt to the surface. Kedar Jadhav scored a vital fifty down the order to help India reach 224-8 at the end of their 50 overs.
The Indian bowling order managed to keep the Afghan batsmen on a tight leash with respect to the run-rate and were vigilant in the field as well.
With wickets being scalped at regular intervals, the game was stretched till the end where the equation read 32 off the last 4 overs. The settled Mohammad Nabi got to his half-century after a run out miss by Hardik Pandya gave him a second life.
The penultimate over turned out to be the game changer as the No.1 ranked bowler showed his prowess with lethal yorkers that gave Shami 16 runs to defend off the last over.
Despite starting the over off on a sour note with a lavish full toss which was duly sent to the boundary, Shami responded with a brilliant hattrick to fold out the opposition and become the second ever Indian to pick up a World Cup hattrick after Chetan Sharma in 1987.
The 11-run victory keeps India’s unbeaten run alive. With 9 points, the team now head to face West Indies next.