A clinical performance by India enabled them to beat Afghanistan in their opening match in the Twenty20 World Cup against Afghanistan. Ashish Nehra won the man-of-the-match award for his three wicket haul

India beat Afghanistan by seven wickets in the teams' World Twenty20 opener here on Saturday but the outsiders were far from disgraced on their tournament debut.

Set 116 for victory, India finished on 116 for three with more than five overs to spare.

Earlier, Afghanistan's 115 for eight featured an impressive fifty from opener Noor Ali, well supported in a fourth-wicket stand of 68 by the hard-hitting Ashgar Stanikzai, whose 30 featured three sixes.

Ashish Nehra led the Indian attack with three wickets for 19 runs, his pace and bounce proving too much for several batsmen.

Murali Vijay, making his Twenty20 debut in place of injured India opening batsman Virender Sehwag, made 48 before holing out when his team was in sight of victory.

Early wickets

Electing to field, the former champion did not have long to wait for wickets, Karim Sadiq caught down the legside by Dhoni off left-arm quick Nehra for a four ball nought as he tried to pull a short ball.

But Ali gave Afghan fans something to cheer by leg-glancing the first four of the innings, off Praveen Kumar in the third over and he stylish square drove the same bowler for another boundary.

However, Mohammad Shahzad fell in similar fashion to Sadiq and Afghanistan captain Nowroz Mangal fell cheaply to Ravindra Jadeja.

Stanikzai though gave Ali good support and smote some impressive boundaries, including a six over midwicket off Harbhajan Singh.

The duo's stand was ended when Ali, whose fifty came off 47 balls with four fours, gave the returning Nehra a third wicket when he too failed with a pull, Dhoni once more taking the catch. Then 97 for four became 97 for five when Stanikzai, whose runs came from just 33 balls, holed out to midwicket off Kumar. Next ball Mohammad Nabi skied Kumar to Dhoni.

But Afghanistan got past the hundred mark — a fair achievement in itself and all the more impressive given that less than two years ago it was playing alongside Germany and Vanuatu in Division Five of the World Cricket League.

Scoreboard

Afghanistan Innings

Noor Ali c Dhoni b Nehra 50; Karim Sadiq c Dhoni b Nehra 0; Mohammad Shahzad c Dhoni b Nehra 6; Nowroz Mangal c Gambhir b Jadeja 5; Asghar Stanikzai c Zaheer b Kumar 30; Mohammad Nabi c Dhoni b Kumar 0; Raees Ahmadzai not out 5; Samiullah Shenwari run out 7; Hamid Hassan c Nehra b Zaheer 6; Shapoor Zadran not out 0

Extras: (3lb, 3w) 6

TOTAL: (for eight wickets) 115; Overs: 20.

Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-22, 3-29, 4-97, 5-97, 6-97, 7-107, 8-114.

Bowling: Praveen Kumar 3-0-14-2, Ashish Nehra 4-0-19-3, Zaheer Khan 3-0-24-1 (1w), Ravindra Jadeja 4-1-15-1, Yuvraj Singh 1-0-4-0, Harbhajan Singh 4-0-24-0 (1w), Yusuf Pathan 1-0-12-0 (1w).

India Innings

Gautam Gambhir c Nabi b Dawlat 4; Murali Vijay c Shapoor b Hassan 48; Suresh Raina lbw b Samiullah 18; Yuvraj Singh not out 23; Mahendra Singh Dhoni not out 15

Extras: (1lb, 4w, 3nb) 8

TOTAL: (for three wickets) 116; Overs: 14.5.

Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-46, 3-101.

Bowling: Dawlat Ahmadzai 2-0-21-1 (1nb), Shapoor Zadran 2-0-6-0 (1w), Mohammad Nabi 3-0-33-0 (1nb), Samiullah Shenwari 2-0-11-1 (1w), Karim Sadiq 2-0-22-0 (1w, 2nb), Hamid Hassan 3-0-8-1, Nowroz Mangal 0.5-0-14-0.

Man of the match: Ashish Nehra.

Toss: India.

Umpires: Aleem Dar, Pakistan, and Marais Erasmus, South Africa.

Third umpire: Simon Taufel, Australia. Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle, Sri Lanka.

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