On Choti Diwali on Wednesday, entire India will be praying that Virat Kohli and his team play true to their reputation in a crucial T20 World Cup Group 2 match against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi. With Pakistan already in the semifinals from this group, India, New Zealand and Afghanistan all have a chance to make the last four and each one of them will be gunning for two full points and nothing less. In this format of the game, no team is a favourite and when a playing XI has three world-class spinners, they can never be ignored. Indian batsmen will brace for some spin test against Afghanistan's troika of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and captain Mohammad Nabi. Batsmen like KL Rahul, who don't have a great record against Rashid Khan, will have to dig deep into their IPL knowledge to score their runs against the Afghans, who have four points from three matches and a very healthy nett run rate of 3.097. It is thus imperative that India, who have lost to Pakistan and New Zealand by big margins, must not only win but emerge victorious by a handsome margin so as to take care of their -1.609 run rate. The experiment to open with Ishan Kishan is likely to end with Rohit Sharma expected to go back to his usual position. But it's not about position, dew or other external factors that will matter tonight. India need to show their hunger and shun indiscretion against a dangerous opponent. India have never lost a T20 international against Afghanistan but that's history. Indians simply need to fire so that cricket fans can enjoy Diwali on Thursday. Follow here live cricket scores and live updates of IND vs AFG.
23:23 PM IST: Players speak
Rohit Sharma (Player of the Match): It was a good pitch to bat on and the idea was pretty simple to go after. Rahul was brilliant with the bat too. The NRR was in the back of our mind so we had to win big.
23:20 PM IST: Who is where?
By the virtue of this win, India have entered positive territory in the net run rate and climbed up in the fourth spot with +0.073. Pakistan, with four wins, remain on top qualified. Both Afghanistan and New Zealand have four points each but the former sit in second with a better run rate. India have two games left against Scotland and Namibia. (Report)
23:16 PM IST: India win
It's all over here in Abu Dhabi. Karim Janat hits a six off the final ball bowled by Hardik Pandya, but India take the match by 66 runs.
23:07 PM IST: Two for Shami
Two wickets for Shami. Shami bowls a slower and Mohammad Nabi goes for the big hit, only to be caught by Ravindra Jadeja for 35. He dismisses Rashid Khan for a first-ball duck, thanks to a running catch from Hardik Pandya. Afghanistan 127/7 (18.4)
22:55 PM IST: 100 up for Afghans
100 up for Afghanistan. Jasprit Bumrah concedes 11 in the over but its too late for Afghanistan now. Afghanistan 109/5 (17), need 102 runs from 18 balls.
22:41 PM IST: Afghanistan need 126 from 36
With half of their side in the dugout, Afghanistan have already lost the match with 126 runs needed from 36 balls. Ravi Ashwin, on his return has finished his spell with 4-0-14-2. Mohammad Nabi (14*) and Karim Janat (9*). Afghanistan 85/5 (14)
22:31 PM IST: Ashwin gets his second
Ashwin picks up another wicket. Bowls straight, Najib tries to sweep, misses the line and clean bowled. Afghanistan 69/5 (11.5)
22:25 PM IST: Thakur bowls right
What a brilliant first over from Shardul Thakur. Just five runs from it. Afghanistan 66/4 (11)
22:17 PM IST: Ashwin doing the trick
Fourth one goes down for Afghanistan. And it's comeback man Ravi Ashwin in the middle. He traps Gulabdin Naib in front. Afghanistan in trouble, 59/4 (9.4)
22:08 PM IST: Jadeja with the big wicket
Deployed spin for the first time in the innings, Ravindra Jadeja picks up dangerous Rahmanullah Gurbaz for 19, thanks to a brilliant catch by Hardik on the boundary. Afghanistan 49/3 (7). Najibullah Zadran is the new batsman in the middle.
22:00 PM IST: Afghans coming into the party
Young Rahmanullah Gurbaz dispatches Mohammed Shami for 6, 6 and 4 in the final three balls of the over to take 21 from it. Afghanistan 38/2 (5)
21:54 PM IST: Can Afghans do it?
Good over from Bumrah. Four over and a wicket from it. Afghanistan 17/2 (4)
21:51 PM IST: Boom Boom Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah joins the party. Hazratullah Zazai gets a top edge, only to be caught by Shardul Thakur. Two down for Afghans. Zazai goes for unlucky 13. Afghanistan 13/2 (3.1)
21: 48 PM IST: Shami draws first blood
And Mohammed Shami gives India first breakthrough. Shami bowls a slower, Mohammad Shahzad, gets a leading edge only for Ravi Ashwin to take a simple catch at mid-off. Shahzad goes for 0. Afghanistan 13/1 (3).
21:44: Numerical calculations
India, whose net run rate is -0.161, need to restrict Afghanistan to 99 or less to go above Afghanistan and New Zealand in terms of NRR.
21:41 PM IST: Slow start
Chasing 211, Afghan openers have started slow against Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. Afghanistan 12/0 (2)
21:37 PM IST: Diwali done right for India so far
So far Diwali has been bright for Indian fans back home. First, former India captain Rahul Dravid was appointed as the new head coach and secondly, the Men in Blue returning to their mojo with a sensational 210/2 against Afghanistan.
21:23 PM IST: Innings break
That's it from India. The Men in Blue now have the highest score in this T20 World Cup - 210/2 in 20 overs. After the departure of openers Rahul and Rohit at 147, Hardik Pandya (13-ball 35*) and Rishabh Pant (13-ball 27*) joined hands to add 53 runs in the final 3.3 overs to take India past 200. The duo also hit three sixes and two fours in the final two overs.
21:11 PM IST: Hardik hits hard
Hardik Pandya takes on the opposition bowlers with three boundaries in the 18th over to give India what is needed at this point. India 175/2 (18). Hardik (15*), Rishabh Pant (16*).
21:00 PM IST: Pant joins party
Despite Rahul's wicket, there is no stopping India. Rishabh Pant hits back-to-back sixes to continue Indian domination. India 160/2 (17)
20:55 PM IST: Rahul departs
KL Rahul goes across the line in an attempt to scoop towards fine leg boundary and clean bowled. Gulbadin Naib with a perfect delivery. Rahul goes for 69. India 148/2 (16.4)
20:54 PM IST: Dravid named India coach
Meanwhile, the biggest news of the day has come in. Rahul Dravid has been named as the head coach of the Indian men's senior national team.
20:50 PM IST: Rohit departs
First success for Afghanistan today. Rohit Sharma hits straight into the hands of Mohammad Nabi, off Karim Janat. he goes for 74. Rishabh Pant walks in at No.3. India 142/1 (15)
20:46 PM IST: Into the orbit
Who says Rashid Khan can't be hit for sixes. Rohit Sharma pummels the leggie for two big sixes in the last two balls to hit Afghan spirits. KL Rahul (60*), Rohit Sharma (74*). India 135/0 (14)
20: 40 PM IST: Indian on a roll
Another good over by the Indian openers. A four to start and a four to end off the bowling of Gulbadin Naib. India 119/0 (13)
20:36 PM IST: Fifties for both Rohit and Rahul
Fifty for Rohit Sharma with a four, his 23rd in the format. Naveen-Ul-Haq bowls slower outside the off-stump and Rohit cuts it away. KL Rahul is also not too far behind as he brings his with a six. 100 up for India. India 107/0 (12)
20:20 PM IST: Halfway stage
One thing that impressed the most today was KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma rotating the strike consistently unlike the previous two matches where they were in a hurry to score boundaries. Both the openers have got the gaps quite brilliantly. Had India approached the previous games like today, the scenario could have been different. India 85/0 (10)
20:14 PM IST: India moving swiftly
Afghanistan have managed to put the Indian batters to some silence in the last two overs. Just 12 runs from the 7th and 8th overs. KL Rahul (26*) and Rohit Sharma (38*). India 65/0 (8)
20:10 PM IST: Injury update
According to a BCCI statement, Varun Chakravarthy has got a left-calf issue. "Varun Chakravarthy has a left calf issue. He was not available for selection for this game," said a BCCI media statement.
20:04 PM IST: Powerplay done
Not the best to finish the powerplay, just one run off the sixth over. But India will take the fact that they have best start in this T20 World Cup. India 53/0 (6)
19:57 PM IST: Ro-hit
Rohit Sharma is in his element today. Goes behind the ball and bangs for a six off Naveen-ul-haq. Two more fours from him in the over too. India bring up fifty in style. India 52/0 (%)
19:52 PM IST: Bit of silence
A bit of silence from the Indian batters. Five singles from the fourth over help India to 35/0 after 4 overs. KL Rahul (16*) and Rohit Sharma (19*).
19:43 PM IST: Ashwin returns after 4 years
This is the first time Ravichandran Ashwin is playing a white-ball match for India after 2017.
19:41 PM IST: Rahul, Rohit dealing in boundaries
This is a kind of start India were missing in the last two matches. After a steady first over, India get two fours and a six, including the biggie for KL Rahul in the second over bowled by Sharafuddin Ashraf. India 23/0 (2)
19:35 PM IST: Steady start
Four in the last ball off Mohammad Nabi from Rohit Sharma to finish the over. KL Rahul (2*) and Rohit (5*). India 7/0 (1)
19:19 PM IST: Curious case of Virat losing tosses
For the record, Virat Kohli has lost three consecutive tosses in as many matches. With Suryakumar back in the side, he will bat at his designated No.3 spot which means Rohit Sharma will once again open with KL Rahul. Ashwin's inclusion means the team management opted for experience in this crunch match.
19:15 PM IST: Playing XIs
Afghanistan: Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Shahzad(w), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi(c), Gulbadin Naib, Sharafuddin Ashraf, Rashid Khan, Karim Janat, Naveen-ul-Haq, Hamid Hassan
India: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli(c), Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant(w), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
19: 10 PM IST: Team news
India have a couple of changes in the playing XI. Ravi Ashwin comes in in place of Varun Chakravarthy and Suryakumar Yadav is back in place of Ishan Kishan.
19:00 PM IST: Toss
Afghanistan have won the toss and they will bowl first.
18:43 PM IST: Battle of spinners in Abu Dhabi
The pitch in Abu Dhabi has assisted spinners so far in this tournament and Wednesday will be no change. Afghanistan, who are heavily loaded with spinners like Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman would like to exploit the conditions. On the other hand, it would be interesting to see whether Ravi Ashwin replaces an unfit Hardik Pandya and how Varun Chakravarthy displays his skills. Ravindra Jadeja will also play a part.
17:54 PM IST: Guptill misses ton
ICYMI, New Zealand's Martin Guptill missed on a well-deserved century after he was dismissed for 93 runs against Scotland. Had he scored those seven runs, Guptill would have scored this tournament's second ton after Jos Buttler's 101 not out against Sri Lanka.
17:51 PM IST: Scenario
As things stand currently, Pakistan have already made it to the semis. Afghanistan with two wins are in the second spot while New Zealand, who are playing Scotland now, are third. A win against Scotland will make New Zealand equal with Afghans with four points. If Afghanistan manage to beat India, they go one step further for their first semifinal spot in any ICC tournament.
17:45 PM IST: Hello
Hello and welcome to another Outlook India coverage in the ongoing T20 World Cup, this time it's India playing against Afghanistan. Mind you, if Afghanistan win today, it's curtains for India.
India: KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Varun Chakravarthy, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Suryakumar Yadav, Rahul Chahar
Afghanistan: Hazratullah Zazai, Mohammad Shahzad(w), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi(c), Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Karim Janat, Hamid Hassan, Naveen-ul-Haq, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Usman Ghani, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Fareed Ahmad, Sharafuddin Ashraf