Singapore, Aug 22 (IANS) The India U-23 team suffered a shock defeat against a spirited Afghanistan team in a limited-overs Group A match at the Kallang Cricket Ground here Thursday but still qualified for the semifinals of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Emerging Teams Cup.
The star studded Indian team, comprising some of the Ranji Trophy and IPL stars, while chasing a target of 185 managed 156 for nine in 50 overs and lost by 28 runs for their first defeat in the tournament.
Despite the loss, India still topped the group ahead of Pakistan and will now face UAE in the semi-finals slated for Friday. The second semi-final is between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Coming into the match, with back-to-back wins against Pakistan and Nepal, it was expected to be an easy outing for India.
They did well by restricting Afghanistan to 184 for seven in their 50 overs. But few expected a defeat for Suryakumar Yadav's team.
Inspired by their bowlers and fielders, Afghanistan defended their total excellently.
India's opening Lokesh Rahul (51) and lower middle-order batsmam Ankit Bawne (39) were the notable contributors.
India's U-19 World Cup winning captain Unmukt Chand was the first to go after having done the hardwork for his 10 off 42 balls in the 12th over. It triggered a batting order collapse as Baba Aparajith (2), Ashok Menaria (5) left in quick successions to leave India at 70 for three. Rahmat Shah removed Rahul that further left India at 82 for four.
Mohammad Nabi (3/32) was the pick of the Afghan bowlers while Mirwais Ashraf was the most economical bowler with 10-1-18-1.
Earlier, opting to field, India's bowlers did well to restrict the Afghan team. Karim Sadiq (25) and Mohammad Shehzad (38) put on 53 in 20.2 overs before the Indians pulled back the innings.
From 76 for no loss, Afghanistan were reduced to 110 for five, but Samiullah Shenwari's 44-ball 43 not out helped them put on a respectable score.
Aparajith took two for 16 in six overs and Akshar Patel got two for 33 from his 10.
Brief scores: Afghanistan Under-23s 184 for 7 in 50 overs (Samiullah Shenwari 43 not out) beat India Under-23s 156 for 9 in 50 overs (Lokesh Rahul 51, Mohammad Nabi 3/32) by 28 runs.