India 474 (Dhawan 107, Vijay 105, Pandya 71, Ahmadzai 3-51) beat Afghanistan 109 (Nabi 24, Ashwin 4-27, Jadeja 2-18) & 103 (Shahidi 36*, Jadeja 4-17, Umesh 3-26) by an innings and 262 runs
Afghanistan brought out their best in the final session once again, but the game had swung so far out of their reach that the second day of their first Test proved to be the last one. Purely on numbers, it was a colossal defeat, by an innings and 262 runs. But the flattening reality of being bowled out twice in a day – only India and Zimbabwe had done that before – having only risen as a team up to this point, will take a while to get over. At different points in the day, they were done in by different bowlers. Ravindra Jadeja got the last piece of the pie, finishing the second innings with 4 for 17.
A flailing effort was best signified by how Afghanistan lost their three most experienced batsmen in the first innings: in complete surrender.
Mohammad Shahzad’s innings was a race to the finish the moment it began. His first boundary came off the outside edge, his second off the inside edge and the odd ball that hit the middle was often one he was trying to leave. After all that and several attempts to tap and run, he chose to take on Hardik Pandya at point and was promptly run-out at the non-striker’s end in the fourth over. Asghar Stanikzai came in at No. 6 and lasted 14 deliveries before stabbing ambitiously at a loopy R Ashwin offbreak without getting his foot forward. He almost fell over as the ball knocked the top of middle stump.
Mohammed Nabi, the top-scorer in the first innings, looked okay for his 24 at No. 7 before miscuing a slog and being the ninth man out. The only solid batting effort by a visiting player came from left-hander Hashmatullah Shahidi, who battled 88 balls for an unbeaten 36 in the second innings.
Scattered all around these efforts were batsmen rooted to the crease in anxiety against a vastly experienced bowling attack. Unlike their opposition’s debutant seamers, India’s fast bowlers sustained both a predominantly full length and near-140kph speeds in getting all three of their first-innings wickets either bowled or lbw. They stuck to the plan in the second innings as well. Umesh Yadav brought the flair, moving the new ball considerably in both innings, and Ishant Sharma looked content playing workhorse.
It was Ashwin, however, who accelerated Afghanistan’s downfall and eventual folding up before tea. At that point, given the extended final session ahead, perhaps only the probability of a follow-on was higher than that of Afghanistan being bowled out a second time.
Earlier in the day, Pandya snuck in a breezy and mature innings. India didn’t have as subdued a session as they did at the end of day one, striking at more than four an over despite the four wickets they lost in stretching the overnight score of 347 to 474. Pandya was patient against Yamin Ahmadzai, who impressed with his lengths once again. He wasn’t rewarded with the new ball, however, with Rashid Khan bowling predominantly from the other end. Pandya saw through this phase before opening up.
His go-to defence mechanism against pace bowling – walking across into the off side – which didn’t quite work out in South Africa was a lot more effective against the late-120s pace of Wafadar. And while he did eventually cramp himself against the 18-year-old, it wasn’t before he swatted the bowler into the leg side several times from various lengths, in control every time but one – and even on that occasion, deep square leg gifted him four overthrows. When the line wasn’t straight, he also managed to pick up boundaries through the off side. Pandya got out looking to accelerate but what the Indian dressing room would have particularly liked was the uncomplicated, organised manner in which he managed an innings with a 75-plus strike rate during his 94-ball 71.