Cricket

Done and dusted in just two days

Indian cricketer Umesh Yadav with teammates celebrate the wicket of Afghanistan batsman Mohammad Nabi during a match.

Indian cricketer Umesh Yadav with teammates celebrate the wicket of Afghanistan batsman Mohammad Nabi during a match.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Test cricket can be a ruthless examination of technique, mind and skill. More so in batting since it takes just one delivery to dismiss you; there is no second chance.

Here, judgement of line, picking the length, footwork and the art of constructing an innings, brick by brick, are critical. One-day and Twenty20 cricket allow you to mask limited feet movement, not Tests.

The Afghans are a feisty bunch, play with pride, but having been brought up on the shorter formats, they were up against almost impossible odds at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.

With little experience in first class cricket, and caught on a greenish track with seam movement and bounce, Afghanistan was shot out for 109, and following on, made only 103. 

The whopping innings and 262-run win is India’s maiden Test victory inside two days, and the first Test to end in two days in the country.

Earlier, India progressed to 474 with Hardik Pandya coming up with a stroke-filled 94-ball 71.

Then the Afghanistan procession started. The batsmen appeared and soon disappeared. 

The portly Mohammad Shahzad, a hard-hitter but not the greatest runner between the wickets, was done in by a swift, sharp throw from Hardik Pandya at point. The Afghanistan capitulation had begun.

Although bowling only at a bunch of inexperienced batsmen, the mechanics of Ashwin’s bowling were impressive. 

The off-spinner has worked on his action, is pivoting a little more, getting greater body into the ball and is more sidearmish at the point of release.

The manner he drew Afghan captain Asghar Stanikzai [in the first innings] with flight and dip and castled him with sharp turn was a classic off-spinner’s dismissal.

Ashwin bowled from over and around the wicket, created the angles and employed the arm ball effectively.

The lanky Ishant Sharma’s off-cutters found their mark, compounding Afghanistan’s problems. Ishant ran in to a good rhythm, generated pace.

Umesh’s 100

And when Umesh Yadav trapped Rahmat Shah with a speedy fullish delivery, he had scalped his 100th Test batsman. A strong, lion-hearted paceman he is.

In the second innings, Umesh fired out Shahzad with an away-swinger and then moved it the other way at a telling pace to dismiss Mohammad Nabi.

And Ravindra Jadeja, who turned the ball away from the right-hander, prised out a battling Stanikzai, who, in a rush of blood, jumped out. After this, the batting lacking depth, it was only a matter of time. Jadeja is quicker through the air, gives little away, gets the ball to hurry off the pitch. Afghans, not using their feet judiciously, found him hard to cope with.

In the morning, Afghanistan should have taken the new ball on a greenish surface with seam deviation that would have held overnight moisture. The Indian innings dragged on. 

The Afghanistan field placings still appear to be conditioned by the shorter format. For instance, there should have been a man at at a short mid-off for Rashid Khan for an uppish drive. 

Although a short-leg and a slip were in place, there were four in single saving positions around the bat and another three guarding the fence. 

Hardik collected runs with typical flamboyance. An on-drive off Rashid, against the spin and beating mid-on, was a top shot. 

He was fluent on the off-side too, driving to the left of a diving widish mid-off and and bisecting the deep cover. 

Then came the Afghan collapses. For Test cricket’s latest entrant this was nightmare in daylight.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 6:56:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/india-beat-afghanistan-by-innings-and-262-runs/article24173416.ece

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