Asia Cup: Rohit, Gill Hit Half-centuries As India Ease Past Nepal In Rain-hit Tie To Enter Super 4 Stage
Cricket

Asia Cup: Rohit, Gill Hit Half-centuries As India Ease Past Nepal In Rain-hit Tie To Enter Super 4 Stage

Skipper Rohit and fellow opener Gill shared in an unbroken 147-run stand to register a 10-wicket victory in Pallekele.

India will go into the Super 4 stage of the Asia Cup without having played a full 50-over game in the tournament. It’s not an ideal scenario with a maximum of seven games left before the World Cup, but that’s the hand that has been dealt to them amid inclement weather in Pallekele, Sri Lanka, for their group matches.

After bowling out Nepal for 230 in 48.2 overs on Monday — left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja took 3/40 — India were 17/0 in 2.1 overs when heavy rain lashed the ground, one of several interruptions on the day. By the time the players returned to the field more than an hour later, the target was pruned to 145 in 23 overs. India’s first game against Pakistan on Saturday had been washed out after they scored 266, robbing their bowlers of a chance to test themselves against Babar Azam and company.

Read More: Who Will Replace Jasprit Bumrah? Predicting India’s Playing Xi Against Nepal

On Monday, Rohit Sharma (74* off 59 balls) and Shubman Gill (67* off 62 balls ) ensured no one else was needed to wipe off the target, putting together a 147-run stand to register a 10-wicket victory. The shortened game perhaps freed up Gill, who has not quite been at his fluent best in recent matches. While he slashed medium-pacer Sompal Karni for three fours in the second over to get going, Gill’s most convincing shot was a six down the ground against leggie Sandeep Lamicchane. All Gill needed was a hint of flight to use his feet and take a couple of steps down the track. Whenever Lamicchane dragged the ball down, Gill and Sharma went back and pulled ferociously to find the boundary. Both batters found a lot of reward with the pull, bringing up their half-centuries in that fashion.

Nepal, however, will draw optimism from their performance. They provided a good account of themselves with the bat early on, openers Aasif Sheikh and Kushal Bhurtel getting off to a rollicking start. They were helped in considerable measure by some sloppy Indian fielding though. Shreyas Iyer dropped Bhurtel at first slip in the first over, quickly followed by Virat Kohli offering a reprieve to Sheikh by grasping a simple chance at short cover. Bhurtel was again dropped in the fifth over, this time by wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan down the leg side.

Read More: Who Will Replace Jasprit Bumrah? Predicting India’s Playing Xi Against Nepal

While the Indian seamers had reason to be frustrated with the fielding, their lengths also were a tad too short. Bhurtel’s first six came off a back-of-a-length ball by Mohammed Siraj that he pulled beyond the deep square leg boundary. Siraj, often employing the cross-seam release, was not all that impressive despite claiming three scalps. His lengths were scattered and allowed Nepal to take him for 61 runs in 9.2 overs. Bhurtel again cleared the boundary when Shardul Thakur bowled a long hop outside leg stump. Thakur though was rewarded when he got his radar right, drawing an outside edge from Bhurtel that limited Nepal’s opening stand to 65.

Once India got the opening breakthrough, the Nepal batters weren’t able to sustain that tempo. Jadeja, accurate as ever, did his thing, pitching the ball on off-stump and relying on a hint of turn or natural variation to do the rest. While No. 3 Bhim Sharki played onto the stumps after an angled-bat drive, skipper Rohit Paudel’s thick edge was caught sharply by Sharma at slip.

With these games essentially about ticking boxes, Jadeja will be pleased with his performance. Hardik Pandya also got a decent workout with the ball, claiming 1/34 from eight overs.

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