Rishabh Pant in action against Afghanistan
Rishabh Pant in action against Afghanistan Image Credit: AFP

India thumped Afghanistan by 66 runs in a must-win game in Abu Dhabi to keep alive their slender hopes of qualifying from Group 2. See the live coverage as it happened below ...

Match analysis

India win by 66 runs. Afghanistan finish at 144/7 in 20 overs

The slog, and wickets are tumbling fast. Rashid Khan swings at Shami and Pandya latches on to the catch at long on. 127/7 18.3 overs
Two overs left. 125/5 in 18 overs. Afghanistan need 86 in 12 balls: Sixth wicket falls for Afghanistan. Skipper Mohammad Nabi takes a swipe at Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja brings off a catch at the midwicket fence. 126/6 in 18.1 overs

Last five overs to go. 123 runs needed. A big ask here for Afghanistan. The required run rate is 24.50. Even 150 looks remote now. 89/5 in 15.1 overs

Ashwin gets another. Four years in international white-ball cricket wilderness, he's showing what India have missed. The off-spinner beats the reverse sweep of Najibullah Zadran. 75/5 in 12 overs

Afghanistan have lost their top four batsmen in 10 overs. But the fight hasn't gone out of them. They need to reach at least 160 to preserve their net run rate. 68/4 in 11.2 overs.

Third wicket down. Rahmanullah Gurbaz skied Jadeja and Pandya takes it. But that wouldn't stifle Afghanistan. They will continue to attack, irrespective of the situation. 49/3 in 7 overs

Ravichandran Ashwin bowling his first over in four years for India in white-ball cricket. A tight over. Just two runs off it. India need more wickets. 51/3 in 8 overs

Shami's figures are mangled in his third over, conceding 11 runs. Two fours and two sixes came from it. Rahmanullah Gurbaz smashed two consecutive sixes. Afghans refuse to roll over, they are fighting hard. 38/2 in 5 overs

Two down for Afghanistan. Zazai mistimes a shot and Shardul Thakur takes the catch, off Bumrah. Afghan chase is unravelling. They need a partnership. 13/2 in 3.1 overs

Hazratullah Zazai and Mohammad Shahzad have launched the Afghan chase. Zazai had one super shot, picking Bumrah off his toes for a six over midwicket. Shami is impressive in his two overs and gets a wicket. 13/1 in 3 overs

Afghanistan are off and running - litterally. Zazai helps himself to a four and a six to take the underdogs to 12/0 after 2 overs.

A must-win game awoke the Indian batting from its slumber as they faced Afghanistan in a Group 2 tie in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. The visions of a big win seemed to have suffered a setback when Afghanistan put India into bat. And for the first time in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, India batted with intent and ran up a total of 210/2 in 20 overs — the highest in the tournament.
Rohit Sharma struck a 47-ball 74, and his opening partner KL Rahul scored a 48-ball 69 as they launched the Indian innings with a 140-run stand. Later, Hardik Pandya (35 off 13) and Rishabh Pant (27 off 13 balls) raked in 63 in 21 balls. This was India batsmen playing to potential, but has it come too late?
The total is huge, but that will not put the Afghan batsmen off the scent. They will chase it with gusto. If Indian bowlers don’t snap up early wickets, the dreams of a big win could die down.

Rishabh Pant in action against Afghanistan
Rishabh Pant in action against Afghanistan Image Credit: AFP

Hassan Hamid with the final over. Pant takes a four and six off him in the first two balls. 16 from the over, and India finish at 210/2 in 20 overs

The Indians among the sizeable crowd are on their feet, cheering every boundary. And the Afghans have fallen silent as runs are coming in a deluge.

A crazy over from Naveen-Ul-Haq. A dropped catch and a collision, followed by two sixes. 19 runs from it. India 194/2 in 19 overs. This is the highest score in this World Cup.

Rishabh Pant is the master of one-handed sixes. Here he lashes one off Gulbadin and follows up with another. Two one-handed sixes off two balls in a row. 160/2 in 17 overs

Rahul (69) falls to Gulbadin. A premeditated scoop attempt went awry. Hardik Pandya in. Two new batsmen in the slog overs is not ideal. 147/2 in 16.3 overs

Rishabh Pant is the master of one-handed sixes. Here he lashes one off Gulbadin and follows up with another. Two one-handed sixes off two balls in a row. 160/2 in 17 overs

Last over from Rashid Khan. A tense Afghan review for lbw against Pant. Pitched out the leg stump. And another review, this time by India. And the umpire's decision has been ruled out. Pant survives. But just three off the over. So Rashid Khan ends with 0-36 from his four overs. 145/1 in 16 overs

Rishabh Pant is in. The ideal time for him to fire away. Only 5 overs left. And India have a left-right combination at the crease. 142/1 in 15 oversThe first Indian wicket falls. Rohit Sharma slams one straight to Nabi at short extra cover off Karim Janat, and India are 140/1 in 14.4 overs.

The first Indian wicket falls. Rohit Sharma slams one straight to Nabi at short extra cover off Karim Janat, and India are 140/1 in 14.4 overs.

Back to back sixes from Rohit, and the Rashid Khan challenge is neutralised. The leggie has only one over left. His three overs have cost him 33 runs. 139/0 in 14.1 overs

Naveen-ul-Haq continues to be expensive for Afghanistan, Rohit takes two fours of him, and Rahul struck one six. That has perked up the Indian rate to near 9. Both Rahul and Rohit have crossed their fifty and India are 111/0 in 12.1 overs

Two overs of Rashid Khan and Afghan skipper Nabi has gone back to pace. Indian run rate hovers at above 8 with 9 overs left. They have the platform to launch, but shouldn't lose their way in the middle overs. 95/0 in 11.2 overs

11 runs from Rashid Khan's second over. That's a good haul without taking too many risks. 85/0 in 10 overs. India's best start in three matches. This is the kind of start that was lacking in the last two matches.

Nine overs are gone, the scoring rate has dipped in the middle overs. Rashid Khan is partly responsible for that. Rohit and Rahul have become more careful, although Rahul is picking out Naveen.

Powerplay is over and Afghan ace Rashid Khan is into the attack. Indian are cautious against the leg-spinner, picking singles and a two off him, 65/0 in 8 overs. Sensible strategy.

A very good over from seamer Hamid Hassan. Kept the Indians quiet. Conceded just one run, and delivered five dots balls in a row to Rohit Sharma. Excellent effort. 53/0 in 6 overs. Powerplay is over. A good haul for India without losing wickets

Young Naveen-Ul-Haq comes in for some severe treatment from Rohit Sharma. 17 off the over with two fours and a six. India going at a fair clip. A run rate of 10.40

Two relatively quiet overs from the Afghan bowlers. Kept Indian scoring to a trickle. 35/0 in 4 overs. The Indian scoring rate has been good. But only two more overs of the powerplay left.

Sharauddin's left-arm spin proves costly in his first over. 16 runs from the over, including a six and two fours. Good positive approach from the Indian openers. 23/0 in 2 overs

Afghanistan players taking their positions. Indian openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul too are out there. India need a big win. That means they need to post a big total and dismiss Afghanistan for a paltry score.

Team news

INDIA: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Rishabh Pant, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 R Ashwin, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Suryakumar Yadav returns in place of Ishan Kishan, and Ravichandran Ashwin comes in for injured Varun Chakravarthy
AFGHANISTAN: 1 Hazratullah Zazai, 2 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 3 Rahmanullah Gurbaz, 4Najibullah Zadran, 5 Mohammad Nabi, 6 Sharafuddin Ashraf, 7 Gulbadin Naib, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Karim Janat, 10 Naveen-ul-Haq, 11 Hamid Hassan.
For Afghanistan, Sharafuddin comes in for the retired Asghar Afghan. Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman misses the match through injury

India must win the game against Afghanistan. And the win should be huge enough to lift their poor net run rate. That’s their immediate priority in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. A loss in the Group 2 game in Abu Dhabi and they would be packing their bags. That’s not easy since Afghanistan have been tough competitors.
India’s task is more challenging due to its misfiring batting and the lack of bite in the bowling. If they don’t raise their game, the Afghans could well deliver a shock defeat.
Afghanistan have a feared spin trio, although their batting tends to be fragile. They still are capable of stunning India. Can they? Let’s find out.