Shivam Dube’s brilliant 60-run knock guides India to victory in the series opener

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Axar Patel of India celebrating the wicket of Rahmat Shah of Afghanistan during the 1st T20I between India and Afghanistan held at the Inderjit Singh Bindra Stadium in Mohali on the 11th January 2024 Photo by Saikat Das / Sportzpics for BCCI

Men in Blue produced an all-round performance to beat Afghanistan by 6 wickets in the first T20I on Thursday night. With a comfortable win, India has taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Although the hosts lost regular wickets while chasing 159, Shivam Dube’s brilliant knock of unbeaten 60 runs from 40 balls helped India to reach the target without any late hiccup. Dube received fine support from Rinku Singh with an unbeaten 16. Both teams will now move to the Holkar Stadium for game 2, which will be played on January 14, Sunday.

Put into bat first, Afghanistan had a decent start as Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran added 50 runs for the first wicket. Jitesh Sharma did well behind the stumps to dismiss Gurbaz for 23. Dube then dismissed the well-settled Zadran (25) in the very next over. Rahmat Shah failed to make an impact as Axar Patel bowled him out for just 3.

However, Azmatullah Omarzai and Mohammad Nabi stitched a crucial 68-run partnership to steady the Afghan innings. Mukesh Kumar gave India the much-needed breakthrough by cleaning up Omarzai (29) in the 18th over. Nabi’s fine cameo of 42 and Najibullah Zadran’s unbeaten 19 helped the visitors to post a defendable 158/5 in 20 overs.

India’s chase got off to a bad start as Ibrahim made a big dive to stop the ball and run out Rohit Sharma for a duck. Shubman Gill (23) played some elegant shots to find the boundary ropes but failed to stick on and score big. Tilak Varma and Jitesh chipped in with 26 and 31 respectively. Afghan bowlers tried to put some pressure on India by taking regular wickets but Dube and Rinku stood tall to take India home.

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