India showed “too much respect” to Afghanistan spinners and should have batted more freely, said former captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth, who hailed the “outstanding leadership” of skipper Virat Kohli during the team’s 11-run win.
India’s famed batting-order failed to counter the Afghanistan spinners on a slow wicket as the Gulbadin Naib-led side restricted the two-time champions to a below-par 224 for eight.
With 16 runs to get in the last over, Mohammad Nabi (52 off 55) came excruciatingly close to leading his side to their maiden victory in the tournament before Afghanistan were bowled out for 213.
“The wicket was slightly slow but frankly speaking, I think India got a bit stuck in the middle overs and should have played a little bit more freely,” Srikkanth, a member of India’s 1983 World Cup winning squad, wrote in a column for the ICC.
“They gave a little bit too much respect to Afghanistan’s spinners because while the Afghans bowled well – especially Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan – they didn’t do so well that India should have been restricted to 225. But they got the win, which was important.
“I thought Virat Kohli captained brilliantly against Afghanistan and it was thanks to his outstanding leadership that India got the win in the end.”
While Afghanistan came close to shocking India, England suffered a stunning 20-run loss to Sri Lanka at Leeds last Friday and Srikkanth felt it could prove to be a “blessing in disguise” for both the tournament favourites.
“I don’t think anyone expected such a close match but it’s great for the World Cup and probably a good thing for India as well because it’s a kind of shock treatment that means they won’t take anything for granted moving forward,” he wrote.
“It can be a blessing in disguise – England know now to watch out and they have learned they can’t take any team lightly. “Perhaps it will be the same for India with the Afghanistan game – a blessing in disguise. They won but you suddenly realise that if one, two and three aren’t going to click in your batting line-up, what are four, five and six going to do?”.