India were crowned Asian Games men’s cricket champions on their first attempt and without needing to bat Saturday in an anti-climatic finish, consigning Afghanistan to a third consecutive silver.

India were declared winners of the final under an Asian Games-specific rule where the higher-ranked team takes the honours if the match cannot be finished, in this case due to rain.

Afghanistan made 112-5 under the floodlights in Hangzhou before the wet weather arrived after 18.2 overs.

With conditions not improving, the final was abandoned.

Indian cricket team won gold at Asian Games 2023
Photo: Indian cricket team won gold at Asian Games 2023

Despite the damp ending it completed a golden double for India after they beat Sri Lanka by 19 runs to be crowned women’s champions last week.

Twenty20 cricket has been played at the Asian Games twice before, at Guangzhou 2010 and Incheon 2014, with Bangladesh and then Sri Lanka crowned men’s winners.

Afghanistan were runners-up both times, but India did not take part.

Because they were among the higher-ranked teams, they both entered the tournament at the quarter-final stage in Hangzhou.

While India cruised through their knockout games, against Nepal and Bangladesh, the Afghans had to scrap hard to beat holders Sri Lanka and then Pakistan.

Afghanistan again had to knuckle down after India won the toss and chose to field, with a gritty unbeaten 49 from Shahidullah and captain Gulbadin Naib’s 27 not out ensuring they passed 100.

They faced a fiery introduction with pacemen Shivam Dube and Arshdeep Singh removing openers Zubaid Akbari and Mohammad Shahzad inside the first three overs.

The needless run-out of Noor Ali Zadran, going for a tight second run in the next over, compounded their problems after Ravi Bishnoi’s accurate throw from the ropes.

Back-to-back boundaries from Afsar Zazai finally got the scoreboard moving as he and Shahidullah put on 37 for the next wicket.

Bishnoi’s spin broke the partnership with Zazai bowled for 15, before Shahidullah and Naib shared a 60-run stand, before rain halted play.

In the bronze medal match, Bangladesh stunned Pakistan when Rakibul Hasan smashed a boundary off the final ball to book a six-wicket win.

Pakistan managed only 48-1 off five overs before rain halted play, with Bangladesh set a revised target of 65 under the DLS (Duckworth-Lewis-Stern) method.

They reached it with four wickets down in dramatic fashion, with Hasan’s heroics sparking wild scenes from the Bangladesh team.

Source: AFP

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