Sharma hails 'fearless' India after first T20 World Cup win

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On the run: KL Rahul (right) and Rohit Sharma shared a 140-run partnership on Wednesday (AFP/INDRANIL MUKHERJEE)
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Rohit Sharma on Wednesday said India's "fearless" approach led to their first win at the Twenty20 World Cup after his blistering half-century helped thrash Afghanistan by 66 runs.

Sharma smashed 74 and put on 140 runs with opening partner KL Rahul, who made 69, to guide India to an imposing 210 for two in their must-win Super 12 match in Abu Dhabi.

India, bounced back from their two opening losses, kept down Afghanistan to 144-7 and stayed alive in the hunt for a semi-finals spot.

"We know that if we lose any game from here we are out of the tournament, so we have to win everything," man of the match Sharma told reporters.

"And when you are in that kind of situation you have to play fearlessly and not think too much about what is happening elsewhere.

"I think the approach today from everyone was different. I wish it was in the first two games as well but it didn't happen. And when we play fearlessly this is what we get."

Sharma came into the game with scores of zero and 14 but tore into the Afghanistan attack with eight fours and three sixes in his 47-ball blitz.

Sharma, popularly called "hit-man" for his swashbuckling batting, raised his 23rd T20 half-century in an innings where he also smashed ace spinner Rashid Khan for two sixes.

Rahul also found his groove in his 48-ball knock.

Returning off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin then got figures of 2-14 in his first white-ball international since 2017 to flatten the Afghanistan batting.

Sharma said the dominating display is the true reflection of Indian team.

"We are a very good team, it's just that we were not very good on that particular day against Pakistan and New Zealand," said the Indian vice-captain.

"Today the game we played pretty much sums it up that this is the kind of team we are."

After Sharma and Rahul's departure, wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya rode the momentum to put on an unbeaten partnership of 63.

Pandya, who hit 35, and the left-handed Pant, who made 27, hit five sixes between them.

Rashid Khan remained wicketless and gave away 36 runs from his four overs.

Naveen-ul-Haq was crashed for 59 runs off his four-over allocation.

Sharma, who remains the frontrunner to replace outgoing Virat Kohli as captain of the T20 team, said India learnt from their mistakes to pull out a powerful performance.

"We have played consistent cricket for years now. You have to reflect on your mistakes and comeback," said Sharma.

"And we did that, learnt from our mistakes and made sure that they are not repeated."

India face Scotland and Namibia in their final two group games but can still be beaten to a semi-final spot by either Afghanistan or New Zealand.

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