India win Asian Games cricket gold without having to bat

By AFP   October 7, 2023 | 04:00 am PT
India win Asian Games cricket gold without having to bat
India's players celebrate their Asian Games cricket gold medal in Hangzhou, China, October 7, 2023. Photo by AFP
A proud and emotional India were crowned Asian Games men's cricket champions on their first attempt and without needing to bat in an anti-climatic finish Saturday, consigning Afghanistan to a third consecutive silver.

They were declared winners of the final under an Asian Games-specific rule where the higher-ranked team takes the honours if the match cannot be finished, in this case due to rain.

Afghanistan made 112-5 under the floodlights in Hangzhou before the wet weather arrived after 18.2 overs. With conditions not improving, the final was abandoned.

It completed a golden double for India after they beat Sri Lanka by 19 runs to be crowned women's champions last week.

"It feels good, we're very proud, wearing a medal is not something we're used to and it's emotional for everyone," said India skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad.

"It is pretty disappointing because obviously we would love to have had a full game and get the result through that.

"I think even 140 or 150 was a pretty gettable target batting second because of the small ground and with the kind of batting we had," he said. "We were pretty confident."

Twenty20 cricket has been played at the Asian Games twice before, at Guangzhou 2010 and Incheon 2014, with Bangladesh and then Sri Lanka crowned men's winners.

Afghanistan were runners-up both times, while India did not take part.

Despite another silver, Afghan captain Gulbadin Naib said his team could be proud.

"I was confident in our bowling, but unfortunately the rain came and they gave the gold to India," he said.

"It's bad luck, but overall in the Asian Games we did well and I'm very proud of the boys. This will give a lot of people (in Afghanistan) hope."

India won the toss and chose to field. Pacemen Shivam Dube and Arshdeep Singh removed openers Zubaid Akbari and Mohammad Shahzad inside the first three overs.

The needless run-out of Noor Ali Zadran, going for a tight second run in the next over, compounded their problems after Ravi Bishnoi's accurate throw.

A gritty unbeaten from Shahidullah 49 and his 60-run partnership and Naib (27 not out) ensured Afghanistan passed 100.

In the bronze medal match, Bangladesh stunned Pakistan when Rakibul Hasan smashed a boundary off the final ball to spark wild celebrations at the end of a rain-affected 48-1 off five overs, with Bangladesh set a revised target of 65 under the DLS (Duckworth-Lewis-Stern) method.

The tournament witnessed some one-sided affairs, none more so than Nepal men's thrashing of minnows Mongolia.

Their 314-3 beat the previous highest international score in the format of 278-3.

Nepal broke several other Twenty20 international records including fastest century, by Kushal Malla off 34 balls, and fastest 50, by Dipendra Singh Airee off nine balls).

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