Singapore: The India Under-23 cricket team suffered a shock upset at the hands of Afghanistan in a limited-overs Group A match of the ACC Emerging Teams Cup at the Kallang Cricket Ground on Thursday. Chasing 185 for victory, India - boasting of Ranji Trophy and IPL players - could only manage a total of 156 for 9 to lose by 28 runs, their first defeat of the tournament.
Though they lost, India did enough to take the top spot in their group over Pakistan and will now face UAE in the semi-finals on Friday.
Following wins over Pakistan and Nepal, the India U-23s were expected to beat Afghanistan who came into the match with one loss and win from their campaign. And when India kept Afghanistan to 184 for 7 in their 50 overs, few could have seen the end result as any different than a hat-trick of wins for Suryakumar Yadav's team.
Instead, inspired by their bowlers and fielders, Afghanistan defended their total excellently. Only opener KL Rahul (51) and Ankit Bawne (39) made anything of note as India stumbled to defeat. Unmukt Chand was the first to go for a laborious 10 off 42 balls in the 12th over, and then the run wickets of Baba Aparajith (2) and Ashok Menaria (5) left India at 70 for 3. That became 82 for 4 when Rahul fell to Rahmat Shah.
From here it the procession continued as Mohammad Nabi (3 for 32) lifted Afghanistan's spirits further. New-ball bowler Mirwais Ashraf was the most economical bowler with 10-1-18-1, taking the wicket of Yadav for 15.
Earlier, after Yadav had opted to field, India's bowlers did well to keep a check on runs. Karim Sadiq (25) and Mohammad Shehzad (38) put on 53 in 20.2 overs before the Indians pulled back the innings. After a collapse from 76 for 1 to 110 for 5, Samiullah Shenwari's 44-ball 43 not out helped inject some momentum in the innings. Ashraf also scored 18 off 16 balls with one six. For India, Aparajith took 2 for 16 in six overs and Akshar Patel 2 for 33 in ten.
The second semi-final is between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Brief scores: Afghanistan Under-23s 184 for 7 in 50 overs (Samiullah Shenwari 43*) beat India Under-23s 156 for 9 in 50 overs (KL Rahul 51, Mohammad Nabi 3/32) by 28 runs.