Colombo: Come a World Cup and trust Yuvraj Singh to come up with something special. The Man of the Tournament during India's successful 50-over campaign last year once again showed that a big occasion always spurs him on.
In India's opening game of the World T20, against Afghanistan, the all-rounder's three for 24 helped them carve out a 23-run victory.
But it was mainly due to Man of the Match Virat Kohli's 39-ball 50 and an useful 38 off 32 balls from Suresh Raina that helped India reach 159 for five after being put in to bat. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 18 off nine balls, which included a four and a six of the last two deliveries of the innings, also boosted the run-rate.
Afghanistan had their moments, but failed to latch onto it. Their fielding was pathetic while their batting and bowling lacked discipline at crucial times. Had they not failed to latch on to at least a couple of the catches that went astray, the Indians could have ended a few runs short.
Bigger tests await India, but Wednesday was about surviving a scare.
Afghanistan kept a tight leash on the Indians till the 12th over allowing them to cross the run-rate into double digits only once during this period. But a spate of dropped catches spoiled their chances. Both Kohli and Raina were dropped within eight deliveries, and the pair added 53 runs after the reprieves.
Shapoor Zadran made early inroads removing both the openers, but there was hardly anyone to back his efforts. The left-arm pacer bowled with great zeal and forced an inside edge from Gautam Gambhir on to his stumps before finding Virender Sehwag's outside edge.
The Indian batsmen have never been comfortable against left-arm pacers and it was no different at the Premadasa, on Wednesday. At 22 for two in the fifth over, any other side could have posed more trouble for the Indians, but Afghanistan just didn't have enough firepower to peg back the Dhonis.
New man Yuvraj tried to ease the pressure by lifting Zadran out of the ground for a six. Kohli, however, did not show any intention of committing a mistake, reaching a sixth fifty in his last six international innings with ease.
The spinners tried to put a lid on the momentum. When Yuvraj edged an intended cut to short third man, off Karim Sadiq, in the 11th over, it looked like India would struggle to reach the 150 mark.
It could have been worse had Mohammed Nabi not spilled Raina's straightforward caught and bowled chance and Samiullah Shenwari not let off Kohli. The dropped chances probably had a psychological effect on the team as the Indians made full use of the mis-fields and wayward bowling.
Afghanistan's inexperience also came in their way in the slog overs. Dawlat Zadran bowled three lovely yorkers in the 19th over, but also conceded six runs through wides in a total of 16. Then in the final over, Nabi bowled superb yorkers until providing Dhoni with two low full tosses that he sent for a four and a six.
Afghanistan showed intent in their chase as their openers raced to 26 in their first four overs. Karim Sadiq (26) and Mohammed Nabi (31) also kept up the good work. But the rest of the batsmen just failed to do the needful.
Afghanistan were in the chase till the 10th over, but ran out of steam thereafter.
After getting a wicket with his very first delivery, Yuvraj in his second spell provided back-to-back breakthroughs dismissing Sadiq and Asghar Stanikzai. Afghanistan, from a comfortable 75 for two, slumped to 75 for four and were never really in the chase thereafter.
A little more discipline could have seen them through, but a great fight nevertheless.