Shivam Dube
India's Shivam Dube watches the ball after playing a shot during the first Twenty20 international match against Afghanistan at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on January 11, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

Mohali: Shivam Dube scored 60 not out off 40 balls to help India beat Afghanistan by six wickets Thursday in the opener of a three-match T20 series.

Dube recorded his second T20 half-century as India finished with 159-4 in 17.3 overs. He had earlier bowled two overs for figures of 1-9.

Afghanistan was restricted to 158-5 (20 overs) as left-arm spinner Axar Patel (2-23) and medium pacer Mukesh Kumar (2-33) picked two wickets each.

The second game will be played in Indore on Sunday. Bengaluru will host the third T20 on January 17.

Put into bat, Afghanistan openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (23) and Ibrahim Zadran put on 50 off 48 balls.

It wasn’t the quick-fire start as expected in this format. Patel got the breakthrough with Gurbaz stumped in the eighth over. Dube sent back skipper Zadran for 25 runs, out caught.

Azmatullah Omarzai scored 29 off 22 balls even as Afghanistan was down to 59-3 in the space of 13 deliveries. Patel bowled debutant Rahmat Shah for three runs.

Omarzai then put on 68 off 43 balls for the fourth wicket with veteran all-rounder Mohammad Nabi. Their partnership partially resurrected the Afghanistan innings, helping it past the 100-run mark.

Nabi top scored for Afghanistan, a 27-ball 42 with two fours and three sixes. Najibullah Zadran scored 19 not out off 11 balls helping the score past 150.

India’s chase began on a horrible note. Returning to the T20 fold after 14 months, Rohit Sharma was run out for a two-ball duck.

His partner Shubman Gill was watching the ball as the skipper was run out. He did make up for it, with 23 off 12 balls, hitting five well-timed boundaries.

Gill was stumped off Mujeeb ur Rahman in the fourth over as India was down to 28-2.

The hosts had to rebuild with Tilak Varma and Dube putting on 44 off 29 balls for the third wicket. Varma was out against the run of play, holing out in the ninth over as India’s chase eased off.

Dube took command from one end, reaching 50 off 38 balls, finishing with a career-high score. Meanwhile Jitesh Sharma’s cameo of 31 off 20 balls put India ahead of the asking rate.

India’s tempo in the second half of its innings meant that the chase was never under any threat.

It was Afghanistan’s first bilateral T20 contest against India on Indian soil with talismanic wrist spinner Rashid Khan missing out.