BENGALURU: The third and final T20I between India and Afghanistan was not just a run-feast but a humdinger of a match at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday.
Skipper Rohit Sharma led the charge with a quick-fire century (121; 69b, 11×4, 8×6) and Rinku Singh (69; 39b, 2×4, 6×6) finished with a flourish to help India post 212/4.It was a competitive total to chase, but anything is possible at a venue, known to be a good batting strip.
Down 0-2 in the three-match series, the visitors who had nothing to lose came all guns blazing. Special knocks from Rahmanullah Gurbaz (50;32b, 3×4, 4×6), Ibrahim Zadran (50, 41b, 4×4, 1×6) and Gulbadin Naib (55; 23b, 4×4, 4×6) helped the Afghans take the game to the Super Over. India eventually clinched the contest in the second Super Over to clinch the series without a blip.
Credit to Afghanistan for making a match of the contest. Gurbaz and skipper Zadran set the tone with a 93-run opening wicket stand. A wonderful cameo by Moahammad Nabi (34; 16, 2×4, 3×6) paved the way for Naib to produce one of his best knocks. He punished Indian bowlers, who bowled in his arc, scoring boundaries at will. With 19 runs needed in the last over, Afghanistan managed to smash 18 and force the game into a Super Over.
In the first Super Over, Afghanistan scored 16 runs and India matched it, sending the tie into the second Super Over. In the second shoot out, the Men in Blue were dismissed for 11 runs. But, it proved enough as Ravi Bishnoi dismissed both the Afghan batters in three deliveries.
Earlier, Rohit, who got out for a duck in the first two matches, roared back to form with a ton. With Rinku for company, the duo was involved in an unbeaten 190-run association – highest-ever T20I partnership for India.
However, it was not one of those typical ‘Hitman’ innings. There were plenty of hits and misses in the first powerplay, a phase which he normally capitalizes. His task was made even harder by Fareed Ahmad, who scalped three wickets, including Virat Kohli, who was out for a golden duck, in the powerplay to push the home team to 22/4 in five overs.
At the mid innings break, Rohit was on 27 from 30 balls. But the man from Mumbai had got a decent idea of how the pitch was playing and unleashed the T20 beast in him. His confidence grew to another level after executing a reverse six off Sharafuddin Ashraf.
From there on, it did not really matter whether the ball was pitched up or bowled short, the ball raced across the turf for a four or it was catching practice for the Chinnaswamy crowd. The 36-year-old completed his ton in the 19th over, to become the first person to score five T20I tons.
Rinku on the other hand, made the finishers’ role his own. He showcased his patient side when the chips were down. But when it came to the last over, he smashed a hat-trick of sixes. The Rohit-Rinku duo smashed 36 runs in the final over.