On expected lines, India beat Afghanistan without any trouble in the dead rubber of the Asia Cup. However, the real purpose of the match was lost since India did not give a much-deserved chance to Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishwar Pandey to prove their worth in this version of the game. The only good India could have got out of the match was to see if Pujara and Pandey can get some much-needed practice, and if all went according to plan, runs and wickets. However, that situation never ensued since India opted to field that same team that lost to Pakistan.
It was appalling to see India taking on the field with the same eleven as in the earlier match. There was every reason for them to make changes and give an opportunity to both Pujara and Pandey. However, for reasons best known to Team India, they decided against doing so. So shocked was Sunil Gavaskar with India’s decision to not make any changes for the inconsequential match, he indirectly hinted that there may be favouritism in the team, and that the regular players may be worried for their places in the team if their replacements did well.
Keeping the controversial selection policy aside, there were some positive signs for India even though they won’t mean much since it came against a minnow. The Indians spinners bowled very well. Ravindra Jadeja was too good for the Afghan batsmen with his four wickets; Ravichandran Ashwin was equally effective with his three wickets, a performance which also included three maidens. Amit Mishra also kept things tight, going for two runs an over while claiming a solitary wicket. Mohammed Shami was also among the wickets, but his high economy rate continues to be worrying.
India’s batsmen also did well, with Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane, who actually opened the innings, both notching up half-centuries. Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik did the finishing job with ease, but it should have been in earlier games that they should have stood out. As of Afghanistan, even though they struggled, Samiullah Shenwari was impressive with his half-century even as opener Noor Ali Zadran looked good during his stay at the crease. With the ball, Mohammad Nabi bowled with heart and kept the Indians in check. All in all, India won the game easily, but their poor selection meant the game was a lost cause even before it began.
--By A Cricket Analyst