Yuvraj and Balaji took three wickets apiece to bowl Afghanistan out for 134 and win the World Twenty20 match for India by 23 runs.
20th over: 136 all out. India win by 23 runs. But not impressive at all. A last-minute push took them to 159 and then they needed three wickets from Yuvraj to bail them out against the aggressive Afghanistan batsmen.
Balaji redeemed himself with a three-wicket haul after his dismal show in the warm-up loss against Pakistan. Easy to assess, India need to tighten up a fair bit in their bowling if they want to go deeper into the tournament.
19th over: 136 for 8. Good thoughtful bowling by Pathan. Mixing the short ones with full-length deliveries, albeit he got hit for a couple of boundaries through extra cover by Dawlat Zadran. India still in control with Afghanistan needing 24 off 6 balls.
18th over: 126 for 8. A four and a run out. Najibullah Zadran first beats the sweeper cover for a boundary but then runs himself out off a suicidal run despite being hamstrung to leave his team's chance to win slip away further. 34 needed from 12 now.
Najibullah Zadran run out 5 (2)
17th over: 119 for 7. Ashwin gets rid of the dangerous Nabi. He stopped and bowled, Nabi tried to clear long-off but couldn't. Much needed wicket for India. 41 needed from 18.
Mohammad Nabi c Sharma b Ashwin 31 (17)
16th over: 116 for 6. BIG OVER! Zaheer hit for 6, 2, 2, 4, 1 by Nabi, followed by a single off the last ball from Naib to make it 16 off the over. Special mention for that six from Nabi. Made room and hit Zaheer on the up for a maximum over extra cover. 44 needed off 24 balls.
15th over: 100 for 6. Afghanistan go past 100, but lose sixth wicket in the process as Pathan gets Shafiquallah out lbw. His celebration suggests India are feeling the heat. 60 needed off 30 balls now.
Shafiqullah lbw b Pathan 8 (9)
14th over: 93 for 5. Nabi and Shafiqullah get stuck into Yuvraj. A six each for the two Afghan smashers. This isn't over yet.
13th over: 80 for 5. Ashwin joins the fun! Shenwar caught and bowled Ashwin. Chipped straight back to the bowler who makes no mistake. This is turning into a procession now.
Samiullah Shenwari c & b Ashwin 1 (2)
12th over: 76 for 4. Double blow! Yuvraj is on a roll here with the ball. He takes two in two. First he gets rid of Sadiq getting him caught at deep mid-wicket by Gambhir and then gets an edge off Stanikzai for Dhoni to complete the caught behind.
Karim Sadiq c Gambhir b Yuvraj Singh 26 (26)
Asghar Stanikzai c †Dhoni b Yuvraj Singh 6 (9)
11th over: 74 for 2. Ashwin into his second over and it seems the Afghans are playing him cautiously. Trying to milk him without taking any risk.
10th over: 69 for 2. Yuvraj continues but so does Sadiq, who this time slaps it past the backward point for another boundary. Now 91 needed off 60 balls. Possible?
9th over: 62 for 2. Ashwin welcomed with a couple and a straight-hit four by Sadiq. He's keeping it going for Afghanistan. A boundary an over plus ones and twos will do it for the next 3-4 overs.
8th over: 54 for 2. Out! Yuvraj, the allrounder, does the trick. Mangal gone lbw. The Afghan skipper played for the turn to a ball that held its line. He missed it and was caught right in front. This is Afghanistan's real test with no pace on the ball. Just two runs given by Yuvraj.
Nawroz Mangal lbw b Yuvraj Singh 22 (18)
7th over: Surprise, surprise! Rohit Sharma into the attack ahead of R Ashwin. He leaks 10 runs, including a slapped four through long-on by Karim Sadiq. Creamed by Karim! Fifty up as well.
6th over: 42 for 1. Mangal ends the over with a superb pick-up six. He swipes Balaji from off and middle and deposits it over the deep square leg. This is shaping up nicely for Afghanistan and the captain is leading from the front.
5th over: 33 for 1. Change of ends for Pathan. He replaces Zaheer. Decent over other than the four conceded to Mangal, who smashes Pathan on the up for a boundary.
4th over: 26 for 1. Out! Balaji ends Shahzad's entertaining cameo. He didn't connect properly this time and Yuvraj gladly accepted a simple catch at mid-on. Good first over by Balaji, just three runs off it and a wicket.
3rd over: 24 for no loss. Not a bad start at all this from Afghanistan and Shahzad is leading it. Ala Dhoni! A helicopter shot for a boundary through the mid-wicket and a hard slash to follow that crashes through the third-man fence. This is becoming very entertaining.
2nd over: 11 for no loss. Nice shape by Irfan Pathan from the other end. Bringing it back in to the right-handers, which is his strength. Shahzad isn't holding back, though. Slaps an in-swinger through the mid-wicket for Afghanistan's first boundary. Good contest so far.
1st over: 4 for no loss. In case you wondering who are the Afghan openers. It's Nawroz Mangal and Mohammad Shahzad, who digs under a fullish first delivery from Zaheer to smack him over mid-off. No timing tough, two runs. But intentions are there to keep India on toes. Mangal looking more organised and orthodox.
20th over: 158 for 5. Dhoni finishes in style with a four and a six off the last two balls of the innings. But a good effort nonetheless by Afghanistan. Suresh Raina is the fifth Indian batsman to go down, bowled by Nabi. Afghanistan now need two of their batsmen to go berserk, and we'll have a match on our hands.
Suresh Raina b Mohammad Nabi 38 (33)
19th over: 143 for 4. Finally a big over for India. 12 runs off it. Five byes and a smacked four to long-on by Dhoni. Will the last over push India to 160?
18th over: 131 for 4. India need some sky-scrapers here but a boundary an over is all they are getting. Raina heaves one over mid-wicket to collect four more runs. But that's all other than ones and twos in the over. 160 out of reach?
17th over: 122 for 4. Dhoni has joined Raina. The left-hander crashes a full-length delivery to sweeper cover who misfields and the ball crosses the boundary. But India need more of those to go near 160.
16th over: Out! Finally the Afghans hold onto a catch. Nabi takes an overhead catch at long-off as Kohli fails in his attempt to clear him. But another crafty innings from the young Indian sensation. A 38-ball fifty and India looking to go past 160.
Virat Kohli c Mohammad Nabi b Dawlat Zadran 50 (39)
15th over: 111 for 3. Another chance grassed. Raina benefits. He top edges and the skier goes through the hands of the 12th man fielding at point. That after he sliced Shenwari for a boundary off the first ball of the over.
14th over: 102 for 3. Shapoor is back in the attack for his last over of the innings. Superb cricket from Kohli. He jumps out of his crease and deposits Shapoor over extra-cover for a boundary. Raina joins the act a ball later for first a straight, lofted four and then a clubbed boundary to mid-wicket. 100 up for India. Shappor ends his spell on a slightly sorry note: 4-0-33-2.
The V seems to be the favoured area by the Indians today.
13th over: 88 for 3. The holes in the Afghan hands are getting wider. Another one goes through. This time it's Kohli who benefits. The Indian No. 3 attempts to clear the wide long-on but finds Sami on the ropes, who only tips it over the bar to gift India six runs.
12th over: 75 for 3. Butter fingers. Nabi drops a simple return chance offered by Suresh Raina. That would have set the cat amongst the pigeons. But a good over nonetheless. Just three runs off it.
11th over: 72 for 3. Out! Yuvraj walks back. He got a life in the previous over but couldn't make use of it. A slice attempt ends straight in the hands of short third-man fielder. The recovery has been cut in half. Much depends on Kohli now.
Yuvraj Singh c Shapoor Zadran b Karim Sadiq 18 (20)
10th over: 68 for 2. Quite a long over that from Mohammad Nabi, three wides and a dropped return catch from Yuvraj. Eight runs off. India recovering now.
9th over: 60 for 2. Sadiq continues to give a good account of his offbreaks, but Kohli seems to be in the zone. Another boundary for him, again straight.
8th over: 51 for 2. Kohli gets the measure of Naib. Superb connection for a 93-metre six over the bowler's head. Fifty up for India in 7.5 overs.
7th over: 41 for 2. Offspinner Karim Sadiq in action and starts decently, though the Indian duo milks him for seven runs off the over.
6th over: 34 for 2. Gulbodin Naib ends the Powerplay with his first over. The phase clearly belonged to Afghanistan and Shapoor Zadran. Got rid of the dangerous Indian openers. But Yuvraj, with a six in the previous over, and Kohli's on-the-up drive through the covers for a four are good signs for India.
5th over: 29 for 2. Out! Sehwag caught behind. Shapoor is on fire here. Perfect line to the right-hander. Sehwag just hangs his bat out and the ball takes the edge through to the wicketkeeper. Yuvraj strides in and announces himself with a clean straight six behind the bowler. That's how you find the sweet spot.
Virender Sehwag c Shahzad b Shapoor Zadran 8 (10)
4th over: 22 for 1. The other Zadran, Dawlat, keeping it nice and tight at the other end. Just two runs off that over. Good pressure stuff and almost got through Sehwag's defence on a nicely disguised slower ball.
3rd over: 20 for 1. Bowled! Gambhir again inside-edges one to his stumps. Zadran strikes! The left-handed opener once again inside-edges onto his stumps off the nippy left-arm Afghan seamer Zadran. Doesn't bother Sehwag, though. A flick over mid-wicket for his first boundary of the innings.
Gautam Gambhir b Shapoor Zadran 10 (8)
2nd over: 15 for no loss. Gambhir gets two lives on one ball. The top-edge off Dawlat Zadran falls just short of mid-off, Gambhir takes off for a single and is lucky to not get run out. But the lefty gathers himself and glances one for a neat boundary off the penultimate ball of the over.
1st over: 8 for no loss. Left-arm pacer Shapoor Zadran opens the bowling for Afghanistan against the intimidating Indian pair of Sehwag and Gambhir. Gambhir gets off the mark with a nice back foot punch for three through the covers. Sehwag gets room on his first ball and slashes hard for a single to third man to get going. But this guy Zadran is nippier than he appears.
7:05 a.m. No Harbhajan for India, Balaji retains his place. Line-ups:
India: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni(c/wk), Irfan Pathan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Zaheer Khan
Afghanistan: Karim Sadiq, Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Nawroz Mangal (c), Mohammad Nabi, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Gulbodin Naib, Samiullah Shenwari, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Najibullah Zadran
7 a.m. Afghanistan opt to bowl first.
"I think the pitch will remain the same, it might get a bit slower as the match progresses," says Dhoni at the toss. Same strip as the one used for the Australia vs Ireland game.
6:55 a.m. You can trash the five-bowler policy to be adopted by India. MS Dhoni has confirmed to stick to four bowlers and seven batsmen.
6:45 p.m. Hello Amigos! We haven't gone anywhere. Just a small biscuit break and back in front of you to bring India's tournament opener against Afghanistan. Toss in 15 minutes.
Having beaten Afghanistan comfortably in their only previous Twenty20 fixture, there is little to suggest that India will have a difficult time against the minnows in their ICC World Twenty20 opener at the Premadasa.
But that's where caution needs to be exercised. No return from a slip-up against the minnows in this format.