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'It's like winning,' says Shahzad, KL Rahul terms tie unforgettable

Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2018 (16:40 IST)
Dubai: may have ended the Super Four phase of Asia Cup 2018 without a victory, but that didn't diminish what they managed against on Tuesday.To hold India to a tie in the manner that they did was "a really proud moment for my team and me," said Asghar Afghan, their captain.
More than pride, it was the fact that they had managed something historic that will stay with 
the side. "We've played good cricket in Asia Cup," said Afghan. "The way we've finished today, 
I am proud. Credit goes to the guys."
   
"It's a history for Afghanistan because we have never played such cricket before in Asia 
Cup," he said.It was an extraordinary night at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. For the most part, it seemed India ? the only unbeaten side in the six-team tournament ? were on course for another comprehensive win.
 
But the Indians still managed to chip away at the other end, and the momentum all seemed 
to be with No.2 side in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings. Eventually, Mohammad 
Nabi's 56-ball 64 from No.7 pushed the total to 252/8, but it still didn't seem a potent total, 
even with Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman to restrict the batsmen,  an ICC report on 
Wednesday said.
 
When KL Rahul and Ambati Rayudu, India's new-look opening pair, then added a solid 110 
for the opening wicket, it seemed another one-sided victory in India's favour was on the cards.
   
That was the impression even when Mohammad Shahzad, the Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman, blazed away, hammering a 116-ball 124 ? the knock comprised 11 
fours and seven sixes, and he tore apart the Indian bowlers.
 
But Afghanistan unleashed their troika of spinners in the middle overs, and that changed 
everything ? Rayudu fell to Nabi for a 49-ball 57 in the 18th and, three overs later, Khan had 
Rahul walking back for a 66-ball 60.
 
There was a wicket every other over thereafter, even as Dinesh Karthik slowly strung 
together a 66-ball 44. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, and then 
Karthik himself were sent back one after the other, and by the 40th over, India were 205/6.
 
 At that point, it seemed Afghanistan were on course for victory, with their spinners on 
song and only the tail to contend with. But Ravindra Jadeja struck a 34-ball 25, dragging 
the chase with him.
 
It came down to a matter of seven runs from the last over. Jadeja slog-swept and got 
himself four. A single then levelled the scores.It was the penultimate delivery, India needed a run to win. Jadeja got one short of length from Khan, and he looked to pull. Mistimed ? it was caught at mid-wicket, and that was that. The game was tied.
 
It was akin to a win for Afghanistan, according to their captain, and the fact that India had 
their head in their hands while the Afghans did all the celebrating was telling. "Yeah, when you tie with a team like India, it's like winning," said Afghan. "They usually chase easily. It is good for the fans as well," he said.
 
Shahzad, however, wasn't a fan of the tie. "Actually, I'm not happy with the result: hot 
weather, playing in the ground for six hours, it's not fair," he said, after accepting his Player 
of the Match award."I had planned to hit every ball today because we are leaving tomorrow. So I saw the ball, and hit it today. Feeling proud to have played against some good teams of Asia, so happy with my innings.
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