Ali hits 50 for Afghans
NOOR Ali hit a half-century but Afghanistan set India a low target of 116 in their ICC World Twenty20 Group C opener at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia.
Opening batsman Ali hit 50 from 48 balls as the qualifiers made 115 for eight having been put in by Indian captain MS Dhoni.
Ashish Nehra found some early swing as he dismissed Ali's opening partner for a duck, caught behind by Dhoni in the second over.
Mohammad Shahzad fell to the same combination for six in the fourth over as Afghanistan fell to 22 for two.
Afghan captain Nowroz Mangal did not last long either as he fell victim to Ravindra Jadeja in the sixth over, caught by Gautam Gambhir for five. That brought Asghar Stanikzai to the crease and his partnership with Ali produced 68 runs in 66 balls before a single brought up Ali's 50.
He was out two balls later, though, caught by Dhoni off Nehra in the 17th over.
Ali's dismissal prompted a wobble in the Afghan batting order. Stanikzai went in the next over, top-edging a short delivery from Praveen Kumar to Zaheer Khan as his innings of 30 came to an end.
Kumar struck again next ball, dismissing Mohammad Nabi for a duck, Nabi providing Dhoni with his fourth catch of the innings as Afghanistan found themselves 97 for six after 17.2 overs. They could only add 18 more runs to leave India the happier of the sides as they prepared to bat.
Meanwhile, Ireland captain William Porterfield was left to rue a "massive missed opportunity" after a batting collapse handed the West Indies an opening victory in the tournament by 70 runs in Guyana.
Qualifiers Ireland had performed well in the field to limit the tournament hosts to 138 for nine in Georgetown but were bowled out for 68 in just 16.4 overs, the second-lowest score in the short history of Twenty20 internationals and the lowest in any of the three World Twenty20 tournaments to date.
Only Kenya had fared worse, scoring 67 against, ironically, Ireland in Belfast in 2008 and Porterfield cut a frustrated figure in his post-match press conference.
"The way we bowled and fielded we were right in it after the first 20 overs and so this was a massive missed opportunity," Porterfield said.
"It's disappointing, not just the fact that we lost, but the way we lost, especially with the bat. It's pretty disappointing getting bowled out for 70, it doesn't matter who we're playing against or what the conditions were like or anything. We've got no excuse."
The captain had been the first to depart in the Irish innings. Having hit the opening ball from Kemar Roach for four runs Porterfield was out next ball, caught in the slips by man of the match Darren Sammy.
And Ireland were in deeper trouble moments later as Paul Stirling and Niall O'Brien followed their skipper back to the dugout as the Irish slumped to 11 for three inside the first two overs.
"We were struggling after the first 11 balls, losing three wickets. It was a struggle to come back from there," Porterfield added.
"Losing early wickets set us right on the back foot.
"It's hard to play when we just kept losing wickets regularly. We needed a platform, needed some sort of start and to keep wickets in hand coming to the end.
"And if we'd have scored at a half-decent rate up to that, we would have stood a half-decent chance.
"Going four or five down coming out of the first six (overs] you just can't be in that position."
West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo, who stood in for the injured Chris Gayle, was understandably delighted to get off to a winning start in front of his team's own fans.
"I thought it was a very good game and I'm very happy with the guys that played today," Bravo said.
The hosts next face England in Georgetown on Monday before Ireland face the English on the same wicket 24 hours later.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 12 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: South east
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West