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Colombo: If the beginning matters, then Wednesday is sure to ring an alarm bell in the Indians’ mind. India won their opening match of the World T20, against Afghanistan, by 23 runs, but it was not at all a convincing victory. Had it not been for the Afghans’ sloppiness, the result could have been very different.
Chasing the 160-run target, Afghanistan could manage 136 in 19.3 overs. And when one takes into account the dropped catches by the Afghans during the Indian innings, it is easy to understand what made the difference in the match.
While batting, the Indians never managed to find their free-flowing game. The openers failed and, had it not been for Virat Kohli (once again), crossing 150 would have been a tough ask.
With the ball, the Indians were better though. But even then, that the Afghans ran the match close is a cause of concern. Lakshmipathy Balaji and Yuvraj Singh bowled well and got wickets. But if India have high hopes, Zaheer Khan and Ravichandran Ashwin will have to get into the groove.
At the post-match presentation ceremony, Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted that his team did not play brilliantly and there are areas which need improvement. Nawroz Mangal, the Afghanistan captain, felt poor shot selection by his batsmen cost them the match.
The following are excerpts
Mahendra Singh Dhoni: This format balances both the teams… There are no outright favourites… The complexion of a match could change very quickly if a batsman or a bowler of the opponent team has a great day.
There were a few nervous moments today… Cricket is a great leveller… You have to be at your best in every game and you cannot take any side lightly.
So, winning the game was important…
It was a good performance but not at all a brilliant performance. We were not up to the mark… Of course, it was good to win… As the tournament progresses, we have to improve on a lot of areas. If we don’t improve on those areas, then there will always be pressure on the batsmen to score 20 runs more than the par score on a pitch.
We are playing one bowler short… If a couple of bowlers are having an off-day, the role of the part-timers become really important and they need to perform really well. Yuvraj Singh provided us with the right kind of balance in today’s game. He bowled brilliantly…
People talk about playing five bowlers… But, in this format, what matters is how the bowlers are bowling on a particular day.
Nawroz Mangal: It was a good game for the boys… But we could have done better in the field. Our shot selection was a bit poor… I think that the reason we lost the game.
We are satisfied that we restricted the mighty Indian batting to 160… Unfortunately, we could not chase it.