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Welcome to the big time: India easily beats Afghanistan

February 10, 2015

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — After an uplifting start, Afghanistan got a taste of what may lie ahead at the Cricket World Cup when Rohit Sharma blazed 150 to help defending champion India to an eventual 153-run win in a warmup match on Tuesday.

Afghanistan had India in trouble at 16-2 after dangerous top-order batsmen Shikhar Darwan (4) was bowled by Hamid Hassan and Virat Kohli (5) was caught behind off Dawlat Zadran in the fourth over.

But Sharma shared two big partnerships to lift India to 364-5. He put on 158 for the third wicket with Suresh Raina (75), who was run out with the total at 174.

Sharma then dominated a 95-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane to lift the total to 269 in the 40th over, before he was caught at long-on from Mohammad Nabi’s bowling. His 122-ball innings contained 12 boundaries and seven sixes at Adelaide Oval.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who guided India to the 2011 World Cup title on home soil, was out for 10 as his team chased quick runs. Rahane finished unbeaten on 88 from 61 balls.

Afghanistan was never seriously in the chase, reaching 158-4 in 35 overs and finishing at 211-8. Nawroz Mangal led the way with 60 runs.

India hadn’t won a competitive match in Australia in two months, including a 2-0 loss in the four-match test series, and a winless run in the limited-overs tri-series against Australia and England.

India was well beaten again by Australia in a warmup match at Adelaide last weekend, but was always expected to lift against tournament newcomer Afghanistan as it prepared for its World Cup opener against archrival Pakistan on Sunday.

In the other warmup match on Tuesday, Alasdair Evans snared four wickets and Majid Haq took three as Scotland beat Ireland by 179 runs.

Scotland reached 296-6 after winning the toss and batting at Blacktown Oval in Sydney, with Matt Machan scoring 103 and Preston Mommsen and Richie Berrington posting half centuries.

Max Sorensen took 3-55 for Ireland, and Craig Young returned 2-30.

Scotland then restricted Ireland to 117 runs in 27 overs, with Paul Stirling top-scoring for Ireland with 37 runs.

India’s games always draw a big TV audience, and the World Cup organizing committee is tipping the Pool B match against Pakistan could be the most watched cricket match in history.

“If you look at ... the work the ICC has done to expand its broadcast footprint around the globe, this could very well be the most watched game of cricket at that point in time in the history of cricket,” World Cup 2015 chief executive John Harnden told a news conference. “That’s very real. You’ve got two teams, probably reasonably evenly matched. It does bode well.

“The match sold out in 20 minutes, (and) when we put some further tickets on sale in November, they were literally gone in seconds.”