A late hat-trick by Mohammed Shami overshadowed the Afghanistan spinners’ brilliance in Southampton as India managed a narrow win to maintain their unbeaten run at the 2019 World Cup. Hugh Chevallier revisits the last-over thriller in the 2020 Wisden Almanack.
India v Afghanistan
Match 28, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
The Ageas Bowl, Southampton
June 22, 2019
The sun beat down, and a game some feared would be a drab drubbing turned into a vivid thriller. One side had not lost, the other had not won, yet it was often impossible to gauge which was which, despite Afghanistan having conceded 397 against England.
India chose to bat, and a pale, dry pitch showed its true colours: it was a curmudgeonly turner. In the fifth over, Mujeeb Zadran slipped a beauty past a bamboozled Sharma. The first Indian to fall to spin in the tournament, he had made one from ten. With a single glorious, predictable, exception, no one found the going easy. Kohli played with a studiously straight bat and, until he miscued Mohammad Nabi to short third man for 67, his placement was exquisite, his running exemplary.
Distrust of the surface unsettled others, easy singles were spurned, and between the 31st and 45th overs Dhoni and Jadhav scraped 57. A total of 224 felt vulnerable.
While Afghanistan boasted a fearsome spin attack, India fielded a gifted pace battery: Bhuvneshwar Kumar was injured, yet his replacement, Mohammed Shami, tore in at 90mph, and the runs would not come. But neither did wickets and, at 98 for two after 26, Kohli brought back Bumrah, whose seventh ball struck Rahmat Shah on the pad. When Aleem Dar declined the appeal – India had used up their review – Kohli’s fury earned a fine and a demerit point. But the fiery over did dismiss two batsmen, and India were on top.
Nabi, though, was his cussed, combative self and, with Afghanistan needing 24 from three, an upset of seismic proportions was on – only for Shami to snuff out resistance with a hat-trick, India’s second in the World Cup. The Afghan storm had been weathered. But it was close.
First published in the 2020 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack