Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli engage in a strategic run between the wickets during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 encounter between India and Afghanistan at Arun Jaitley Stadium, New Delhi, Wednesday, 11 October 2023
New Delhi: Captain Rohit Sharma astonishingly surpassed fellow countryman Sachin Tendulkar on Wednesday, crafting a record-setting seventh World Cup century, thus steering India toward a formidable eight-wicket triumph over Afghanistan.
Tasked with a target of 273 for victory in New Delhi, the hosts capitalised on Rohit’s stellar 131, reaching their objective in a mere 35 overs, marking their second consecutive victory in the 50-over marquee event.
His rapid century, achieved in just 63 balls, not only elevated the near-capacity crowd but also eclipsed Tendulkar’s previous record of six centuries in World Cups. Furthermore, Rohit’s century emerged as the fastest by an Indian in World Cup history, surpassing Kapil Dev’s 72-ball century against Zimbabwe in 1983.
Employing a diverse range of shots, Rohit accumulated 1,000 World Cup runs and concurrently surpassed Chris Gayle’s record of 553 sixes across all formats. His aggressive 84-ball innings, adorned with 16 fours and five sixes, concluded when bowled by leg-spinner Rashid Khan. Rohit, alongside left-handed Ishan Kishan, who contributed 47, forged a dominant opening partnership of 156, perpetuating the team’s ascendancy following a commendable bowling display on a batter-friendly pitch. Celebrated cricketer and Delhi-native, Virat Kohli, seamlessly continued the momentum, striking an unbeaten 55 and concluding the match with a boundary.
Afghanistan established a score of 272-8 after opting to bat in a stadium that witnessed a World Cup record 754 runs in the preceding match when South Africa, having scored 428, overcame Sri Lanka. Jasprit Bumrah, India’s pace vanguard, delivered an exemplary performance, achieving his best World Cup bowling figures of 4-39.
Afghanistan faltered, sliding to 63-3 before captain Hashmatullah Shahidi (80) and Azmatullah Omarzai (62) collaborated for a recovery with a 121-run partnership. After dismissing Ibrahim Zadran for 22, Bumrah signalled to his temple in celebration. Quick successive losses of Rahmanullah Gurbaz (21) and Rahmat Shah (16) ensued, with wickets taken by Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur, respectively. Shahidi and Omarzai then embarked on a century stand to reconstruct the innings, prompting Rohit to strategically alternate his bowlers. After Omarzai reached his second ODI fifty, Shahidi hammered Pandya for a four, reaching his own fifty, and then swiftly followed with a six. Though Omarzai, having struck two fours and four sixes in his 69-ball knock, adopted an aggressive approach, he was ultimately bowled by Pandya. Shahidi persisted with regular boundaries but fell lbw to Kuldeep Yadav, attempting a reverse sweep against the left-arm wrist spinner. Bumrah’s dual strikes, including Rashid, curtailed Afghanistan’s momentum on a run-abundant wicket.
While Afghanistan yielded to Bangladesh in their opening match, tournament favourites India inaugurated their campaign with a win against five-time victors Australia.