T20 World Cup: The return of Ashwin was a real positive, says Virat Kohli

Indian skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday showered praise on Ravichandran Ashwin, saying the return of the experienced spinner “was a big positive in the win”. The men-in-blue registered a thumping 66-run victory over Afghanistan in a Group 2 match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium here.

Ashwin scalped two wickets on his return to the side. He got his first T20I wicket since 2016 by trapping Naib plumb lbw in front and then he dismissed Najibullah Zadran.

“The return of Ash was a real positive, it was something he has worked really hard for. He showed this control and rhythm in the IPL as well. He’s a wicket taker and a smart bowler as well,” Kohli said after the match.

India’s batters stepped up when the occasion demanded to set up a big victory over Afghanistan in a must-win match. This was also India’s first win of the tournament, opening their account in the group standings and pushing their Net Run Rate into a positive zone with matches against Scotland and Namibia remaining.

“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,” Kohli said.

Speaking of promoting Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya up the order before him, Kohli said, “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. To give credit to the oppositions, they bowled really well in the first two matches and didn’t let us get away,” he added.

After India’s batting, comprising of Rohit Sharma (74 off 47 balls), KL Rahul (69 off 48 balls), Hardik Pandya (35 not out off 13 balls) and Rishabh Pant (27 not out off 13 balls) rose to the occasion to post a gigantic 210/2 in 20 overs, it was always an uphill mountain to climb for Afghanistan, who made 144/7 in their 20 overs.

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