On Tuesday, India’s men kicked off their inaugural Asian Games campaign with a 23-run victory against Nepal. Explosive opener Yashasvi Jaiswal slammed seven sixes in a brilliant first Twenty20 century.
The top-ranked Twenty20 side in the world has a reserve squad in Hangzhou since its superstars, including as Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, are competing at home in the World Cup for one-day cricket, which starts on Thursday.
However, despite its youth, it is still a strong side, with a number of up-and-coming players who have distinguished themselves in the Indian Premier League as well as a large number of veterans in international competition.
India reached a score of 202-4 after Jaiswal’s superb 100, which he scored off just 49 balls, together with late fireworks from Rinku Singh (37 not out) and Shivam Dube (25 not out) enabled India win the toss and elect to bat first.
Even though Nepal had scored a record 314 runs against Mongolia in the qualifying stages, Mongolia was only able to score 179 runs in response. Avesh Khan and Ravi Bishnoi each took three wickets to help Nepal win the match.
The captain of the Indian team, Ruturaj Gaikwad, was quoted as saying, “They are a good side, so we are not surprised at how they came at us.” Even though it wasn’t our greatest day, we were still able to pull off a victory.
Although the sport of cricket has been included in previous editions of the Asian Games (in Guangzhou in 2010 and Incheon in 2014), India has never participated in either tournament.
The men’s competition was won by Bangladesh in 2010, and Sri Lanka is now the reigning champion. Afghanistan has finished in second place both times.
India, along with Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, was one of the teams that qualified for the quarter-final round in the Hangzhou Games.
At the cloudy Zhejiang University of Technology Pingfeng Cricket Field, Jaiswal got his team off to a blistering start, and they were cruising along at 103 without having lost any wickets.
However, a mini-collapse began shortly after Gaikwad was out caught slogging to deep mid-wicket on 25, and it was quickly followed by Tilak Varma (two) and Jitesh Sharma (five).
‘Pretty exceptional’ is a fitting description.
At the opposite end of the pitch, Jaiswal, who participated in the Test and T20 series against the West Indies in July, brought up his first century in Twenty20 international cricket off of 48 balls. He hit seven sixes and eight fours in his innings.
Soon after that, the 21-year-old fighter’s good luck ran out when Abinash Bohara grabbed him on the ropes as he was trying for another heavy punch.
This sent the outstanding batsman for the Kolkata Knight Riders, Rinku, to the crease, and he smashed 37 runs off 15 balls in a late burst that added 64 runs from the last five overs.
“Whenever you score a century, no matter where you are or who you are representing, it’s a proud moment, and you get goose bumps,” said Jaiswal. “This is especially true when you are playing for your country.”
“This is my first T20 century, and I have to say that it’s pretty special.”
In their victory against Mongolia, a rampaging Nepalese squad created cricket history by becoming the first men’s team to score more than 300 runs in a Twenty20 international. This victory helped Nepal advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament.
On the other hand, India’s bowling unit presented a unique challenge.
At the beginning of the eighth over, Nepal’s score was 62-1, but the entrance of leg-spinner Bishnoi slowed down their scoring momentum.
He took the wicket of the team’s captain, Rohit Paudel, for three, and the key wicket of Kushal Malla for 29, who had previously smashed the quickest ever T20 international century against Mongolia, off only 34 balls.
It put Nepal in a difficult position, with 77 runs required to win in the 11th over, and despite the efforts of Dipendra Airee (32) and Sundeep Jora (29), it was not enough.
Later on Tuesday, Pakistan will compete against Hong Kong in the second quarter-final.