Ashwin's return a positive for us: Kohli

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03 Nov 2021 | 06:22 PM staff

Ashwin's return a positive for us: Kohli

Ravichandran Ashwin claimed 2-14 on his T20I return after four years

India captain Virat Kohli hailed returning off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin's impact in the 66-run win over Afghanistan in the T20 World Cup on Wednesday. Ashwin, who hasn't played white-ball cricket for India since 2017, replaced injured Varun Chakravarthy and claimed 2-14 in four overs at the Sheikh Zayad Stadium Abu Dhabi.

"The return of Ash was a real positive, it was something he has worked really hard for," Kohli said in the post-match presentation.

Kohli pointed out to Ashwin's performances in the Indian Premier League 2021 for Delhi Capitals where he claimed seven wickets in 13 matches.

"He showed this control and rhythm in the IPL as well. He's a wicket taker and a smart bowler as well," Kohli added.

Batting first, India put on a massive score of 210/2 in 20 overs after openers Rohit Sharma (74) and KL Rahul (69) laid the foundation with a 140-run partnership. Kohli felt that they got a better surface than the previous two matches against Pakistan and New Zealand.

"Much better wicket as well, to be fair. In the other two games as well, if we just had two overs of that free-flowing batting capability, that could have sent the message to the opposition that we've put them under pressure," he said. 

After the big start given by the openers, India sent Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya at No.3 and No.4 respectively which Kohli termed as an instinctive decision.

"T20 is a very instinctive game, even in terms of decision-making. The top three is more or less set unless something like today happens, when the top two go on until over 14 or 15."

"We don't decide we're going all out. We back the guys because they're so skillful, and sometimes it comes off like today," he said 

The win kept India in the race for the one remaining semifinal spot with their Net Run Rate climbing to +0.073 which is still lesser than New Zealand and Afghanistan. India still can make it to the final four if Afghanistan beats New Zealand in their next match on Sunday.

"NRR was on the back of our mind. We spoke in the team meeting that we have to focus on the chance we have [to qualify] and stay positive and hunt that chance down," Kohli said.

Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi felt that dew factor was the reason behind his decision to bat second which didn't pay off.

"We wanted to bat second because of the dew, and the wicket looked really good for batting. In the end there wasn't that much dew, but India batted really well on this pitch and put our bowlers under pressure," Nabi said.

Despite fireworks from Nabi (35 off 32) himself and Karim Janat (42 not out off 22), Afghanistan managed only 144/7 in 20 overs.

"We didn't rotate strike well in the middle, and we threw away our wickets and got under pressure."

India will next face Scotland on Friday in Dubai and Namibia in their final group game at the same venue on November 8.

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India vs AfghanistanICC World Twenty20, 2021IndiaAfghanistanVirat KohliRavichandran AshwinMohammad Nabi

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