India’s turnaround too late in Asia Cup dead rubber against Afghanistan

Jadeja and Ashwin have the Afghans in a bind as India win by 8 wickets.

Ravindra Jadeja, left, took four Afghanistan wickets at the Sher-e-Bangla in Dhaka on Wednesday. Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP
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DHAKA // World Cup champions India ended their disappointing campaign in the Asia Cup with an eight-wicket romp over minnows Afghanistan in their final league match in Dhaka on Wednesday.

Spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin shared seven wickets as India skittled Afghanistan for 159 after electing to field at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.

Openers Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan then put on a 121-run stand as India surpassed the modest target in the 33rd over of their innings. Rahane scored 56 and left-handed Dhawan made 60 before both batsmen fell in successive overs, but Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik saw their team through in the one-sided contest.

The result of the first-ever one-dayer between the two teams had no bearing on the tournament because Pakistan and Sri Lanka have already qualified for Saturday’s final.

India finished the five-nation tournament with two wins against hosts Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but having lost key matches against Sri Lanka and arch-rivals Pakistan.

Indian captain Virat Kohli, standing in for the injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni, said he was happy to sign off from the tournament with a good win.

“This was a complete performance from the team,” he said. “It is hard to motivate yourselves when you are out of contention for the final.

“But being relaxed worked for us. I think we were quite tense in the earlier games. This is a young team and we have to be patient with them. The results will follow.

“We committed crucial mistakes against Pakistan and Sri Lanka and lost close games. But I am happy the way team showed character and fought till the end.”

Afghanistan, preparing for their maiden World Cup appearance next year, were beaten in three of their four matches, their lone victory coming against the hosts.

Skipper Mohammad Nabi said the Asia Cup was a good experience for his team.

“I think this has been a great tournament for us and we have shown that we belong in this group,” he said. “The win over Bangladesh was a good sign for us.

“But I hope we continue to get more matches against the Test nations so that our players can learn from them and improve.”

Samiullah Shenwari top-scored with 50 and Noor Ali Zadran made 31, but eight Afghanistan batsmen failed to reach double figures in good batting conditions.

The batsmen appeared comfortable against the seamers, racing to 54-1 by the 12th over, before wickets collapsed in a heap against the turning ball.

Left-arm spinner Jadeja, brought on to bowl the 12th over, struck with his first and third deliveries to reduce the Afghans to 55-3.

With Jadeja and off-spinner Ashwin quickly taking care of the next four batsmen, Afghanistan found themselves struggling at 95-7 in the 26th over.

Shenwari boosted the total with six boundaries and a six in his fifth one-day half-century as the last three wickets added 64 valuable runs.

Jadeja returned with four for 30, but Ashwin (3-31) and team-mate Mohammed Shami (2-50) finished at the top of the tournament’s bowling list with nine wickets each.

They were one ahead of Saeed Ajmal of Pakistan (eight wickets) and two more than Ajantha Mendis of Sri Lanka (seven), both of whom have games in hand.

Sri Lanka will take on Bangladesh in the last league match on Thursday.

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