All-rounder Shivam Dube batted unbroken for 50 runs and took one wicket as India cruised to a comfortable victory against Afghanistan in the opening Twenty20 international on Thursday.
Dube, a left-handed batsman, hit 60 off 40 balls to help India reach their winning goal of 159 with 15 balls and six wickets to spare at Mohali.
As they prepare for the T20 World Cup in June, India leads the three-match series 1-0.
Despite an aggressive 42 by Mohammad Nabi on a cold winter evening, India’s bowlers, headed by spinner Axar Patel, limited Afghanistan to 158-5.
Temperatures dropped to nine degrees (48 Fahrenheit) in the northern city, when summer temperatures often rise to 40 degrees or more.
Some athletes were observed using hand warmers to keep the bone-chilling frost at bay.
“It was extremely cold to be honest,” said returning captain Rohit Sharma, who was ran out for a duck following a mix-up with Shubman Gill.
“There were a lot of positives, especially with the ball,” he continued. It wasn’t the simplest of circumstances, but our spinners performed well.”
Axar and fast bowler Mukesh Kumar both grabbed two wickets, while Dube recorded figures of 1-9 from two medium-pace overs.
But it was his batting that carried the day, with vital partnerships including a 45-run stand with Jitesh Sharma, who scored 31, and an unbroken 42 with Rinku Singh, who was 16 not out.
Dube, 30, won the game with a six and four and was awarded man of the match.
After more than a year away from the T20 format, Rohit returned to captain India and chose to field first.
Afghanistan captain Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz put up 50 for the first wicket before the Indian bowlers struck back, with Axar taking 2-23.
Axar, a left-arm spinner, stumped Gurbaz for 23, and Zadran was caught on 25 by Dube, who had previously dropped the captain on one.
Rahmat Shah had a dismal debut after being dismissed for three by Axar, but Nabi stepped in to settle the batting before launching an assault with Omarzai.
On 29, Kumar ended Omarzai’s innings. Nabi hit three sixes and two fours in his 27-ball innings before succumbing to Kumar.
“We were quite lazy with the fielding today,” Zadran said. “We will also try to improve our batting.” We have no problems with bowling. Will concentrate on what went wrong today.”
Virat Kohli of India missed the game due to “personal reasons,” while Afghanistan spin king Rashid Khan is still out of the series while recovering from back surgery.
The second match is scheduled for Sunday in Indore.