Comeback man Yuvraj Singh provided three crucial breakthroughs but India was far from convincing as it launched its ICC World Twenty20 campaign with a scrappy 23-run victory over minnows Afghanistan here today.
Put into bat, it was man of the match Virat Kohli’s half-century and a useful contribution of 38 from Suresh Raina which helped India reach a decent target of 159 for five in 20 overs.
In reply, Afghanistan batsmen showed patches of brilliance in their strokemaking but their sheer inexperience saw them get all out for 136 in 19.3 overs.
The bravehearts from Afghanistan can hold their heads high as they only went down after putting up a stiff resistance against a scratchy Indian team.
After getting a wicket with his very first delivery, Yuvraj in his second spell provided back-to-back breakthroughs dismissing dangerous looking Karim Sadiq (26) and Asghar Stanikzai as Afghans, from a comfortable 75 for two, were suddenly left tottering at 75 for four and never really were in the match after that.
Yuvraj’s final figures read three for 24 partly due to the couple of sixes he was hit in his final over.
It was Yuvraj and Ravichandran Ashwin with figures of two for 20 who applied pressure under which the opposition batsmen finally gave in. Laxmipathy Balaji finished it in the end with figures of three for 19 but he was also not at his best.
But what should worry the Indians is the ease with which some of the Afghan batsmen played the Indian trio of seamers.