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Rohit Sharma led from the front as India strolled to a massive win over Afghanistan in the ninth match of the 2023 World Cup.
Chasing 273 on the flat Arun Jaitley Stadium pitch in Delhi, Rohit flayed the Afghanistan attack to slam an 84-ball 131 as India got to their target in a mere 35 overs.
The Indian captain was aided in his effort by Ishan Kishan, who continued to open the innings in the absence of the ill Shubham Gill and with some solid efforts from Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer.
While Kishan fell for 47 from 47 balls after overcoming a slow start, Rohit went on to complete his century off a mere 63 balls. It was the quickest by any Indian in World Cup cricket and he also became the first player in the history of this tournament to hit seven hundreds.
Most sixes in international cricket ✅
Most hundreds in Cricket World Cup history ✅
Fastest-ever Cricket World Cup hundred by an Indian ✅
— ICC Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) October 11, 2023
Rohit fell to a tired shot to Rashid Khan but by then the match was all over bar the shouting. What they needed was for Kohli and Iyer to race to a win to improve on their net run-rate in a competition in which the semifinalists could well be decided by that in the end.
Earlier Afghanistan looked to have surprised a few by opting to bat first after winning the toss given what had transpired in most day-night matches at this World Cup so far.
They lost their openers after a decent start but when Rahmat Shah departed in the 14th over with just 63 on the board, it looked like another collapse, like the one in their previous encounter against Bangladesh, was on the cards.
It was here that the Afghanistan captain Hasmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai got together and stitched a partnership of 121 for the fourth wicket.
They took on the Indian bowling by the scruff of its neck as Afghanistan scored 64 runs in the period between the 21st and the 30th and then again between the 31st and 40th over.
At one stage, a score of 300 looked well within reach but once Hardik Pandya returned to dislodge the partnership, the rest of the batsmen couldn’t quite find that final push.
Still, a score of 272 for eight was a marked improvement on their performance against Bangladesh and with a spin bowling attack they possess, it looked like they could ask a few questions.
As it turned out, Rohit Sharma and co. had different ideas.
With this win, India is now second on the points table with a slightly inferior net run-rate than New Zealand.
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