ABU DHABI: Rohit Sharma smashed 74 and Ravichandran Ashwin returned figures of 2-14 as India hammered Afghanistan by 66 runs to stay alive at the Twenty20 World Cup on Wednesday.
Sharma and KL Rahul, who made 69, put on 140 runs for the opening wicket to guide India to an imposing 210 for two after being invited to bat first in a must-win Super 12 match in Abu Dhabi after losing their opening two games.
In reply, Afghanistan finished on 144 for seven with Karim Janat unbeaten on 42. They remain in the hunt for a semi-final spot along with New Zealand and India with Pakistan having already qualified.
Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul hammered half-centuries to guide India to a towering 210 for two.
Sharma (74) and Rahul (69) put on an opening partnership of 140 to lay the foundation for the tournament’s highest total so far in the Super 12 match in Abu Dhabi.
Afghanistan had posted 190-4 in their opening win against Scotland.
Sharma took five balls to get going with a boundary off skipper Mohammad Nabi and then tore into the bowling attack.
India raced to 53 in the first six overs of powerplay to signal their intent in a competition where they need to win all three remaining matches to have any chance of making the semi-finals.
Rohit reached his fifty with a boundary off fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq and then hit a six to bring up the 100 for the opening stand.
Sharma, who had scores of zero and 14 in India’s two losses, smashed the bowlers all around the park for eight fours and three sixes in his 47-ball knock before losing his wicket to Karim Janat.
Rahul soon followed his partner to the dugout after being bowled by Gulbadin Naib on a slower yorker.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya rode the momentum to smash the bowlers as they put on unbeaten partnership of 63.
Pandya, who hit 35, the left-handed Pant, who made 27, hit five sixes between them in a total domination by the Indian batting.
Earlier, Afghanistan won the toss and elected to field first agaisnt India.