ABU DHABI: India’s captain Virat Kohli gestures to Afghanistan’s Rahmanullah Gurbaz during the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup cricket match at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium yesterday. – AFP

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 yesterday. 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. Earlier, Martin Guptill hit 93 and became only the second man to pass 3,000 Twenty20 International runs as New Zealand defeated Scotland by 16 runs at the World Cup yesterday. New Zealand made 172-5 before Scotland battled to a respectable 156-5 off their 20 overs. The Kiwis’ second win in three matches in the Super 12 stage kept them on course for the semi-finals.

Put into bat, 35-year-old opener Guptill put on 105 for the fourth wicket with Glenn Phillips. Guptill made his runs off 56 balls with six fours and seven sixes. His first six off Alasdair Evans in the sixth over allowed him to pass 3,000 runs in the format, second only to India captain Virat Kohli. Phillips made a steady 33 off 37 balls before he was dismissed by Brad Wheal.

The Scottish bowler also accounted for a weary Guptill off the next ball of the 19th over as the opener attempted to cart him over long on. Guptill now has 3,069 runs in T20 Internationals while Kohli leads the way on 3,225. Despite taking two wickets in two balls, Wheal conceded 40 runs off his four overs. New Zealand, who earned their first points of the tournament with an eight-wicket mauling of India last time out, hit 35 from the first four overs, 24 of those off Wheal.

But Safyaan Sharif then sent back Daryl Mitchell for 13 and, four balls later, claimed the key wicket of skipper Kane Williamson for nought. At the midway point, the Black Caps were 70-3 before Guptill completed his 18th T20 half century off 35 balls with another six, his 150th in the format. Sharif was the pick of the Scottish bowlers with 2-28.

In reply, the Scots were on course at 10 overs when they were 76-2. Matthew Cross made a useful 27, hitting five boundaries in five balls at one stage off Adam Milne. Matthew Leask gave Scotland hope with a brisk, undefeated 42 off 20 balls with three fours and three sixes. However, the greater experience of the New Zealand attack was potent enough to apply the brakes with Trent Boult taking 2-29, Tim Southee 1-24 and slow left-armer Mitchell Santner only conceding 23 runs off his four wicketless overs. – AFP