THE Hampshire Bowl was the stage for a World Cup classic as Afghanistan came close to producing one of the shocks of the tournament against India’s superstars.

Afghanistan will be looking to bounce back from their heartbreaking 11-run defeat on Monday, when the Hampshire Bowl hosts its fifth and final match of the tournament, against Bangladesh.

They were denied a win that would have blown the World Cup wide open when Mohammed Shami took a hat-trick in the final over.

Mohammad Nabi’s smart 52 had Afghanistan eyeing the greatest-ever World Cup upset, only for Shami to send him packing - then clean bowl Aftab Alam and Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the next two balls.

Shami’s four for 40 and Jasprit Bumrah’s two for 39 delivered a bowling masterclass to allow India to defend their paltry 224 for eight from their full 50 overs.

Bumrah’s two wickets in three balls turned the tie in India’s favour, but at the death he was upstaged by Shami’s ruthless finishing in a hugely-engaging contest.

Shami and Bumrah allowed a curiously circumspect India to leapfrog England into third place in the World Cup standings.

Bumrah’s removal of Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi appeared the match-defining over, until Shami wiped out the tail at the death.

India extended their unbeaten start to four wins from five matches, as that keenly-anticipated clash with the hosts at Edgbaston on June 30 edges ever nearer.

India continue their round-robin ruse of keeping their powder dry when it comes to power batting.

Captain Virat Kohli insisted before India joined the group stage fray that teams would have to pace their approach carefully to ensure safe passage to the semi-finals.

But when India limped to a paltry 224-8 from their full 50 overs, even the unflappable skipper would have been forgiven for fearing the biggest upset in World Cup history.

Afghanistan did not even need five an over, but India tied them down with line, length and a little bit of guile.

When Shami and Bumrah can fire into form like this, it is no wonder Kohli has already claimed India are ready to defend any kind of total.

So instead of an exhilarating first win in the tournament and just a second-ever at a World Cup for Afghanistan, this proved a suffocation - but only just.

Even into the last three overs Afghanistan had a chance, but India’s death bowling sealed the deal.

Nabi’s half-century so nearly helped conjure a stunning upset, with Shah notching 36 and captain Gulbadin Naib 27. But despite the modest target, the minnows fell just shy of a famous victory.

Kohli threw his wicket away on 67 in an uncharacteristically poor shot that came to sum up India’s malaise in the middle.

Kedhar Jadhav was the only other man to pass the half-century, mustering 52, as India trudged through their full allocation.

England had blasted 397 for six in their 150-run victory over the Afghans, with Rashid Khan leaking a World Cup-record 110 runs from nine overs.

Khan closed on figures of one for 38 from his 10 overs this time out, the 20-year-old quickly moving past that England horror-show.

Naib and Nabi both grabbed two wickets in a bowling performance that handed Afghanistan a real chance of a result.

But when it came to the chase, the Afghans were just one more landmark score - and that Shami hat-trick - away from a seismic result.

And so India’s juggernaut rolls on undeterred, but Afghanistan departed the south coast with reputations restored and plenty of points proved.

Kedar Jadhav insisted that the Hampshire Bowl pitch played a crucial role in the low-scoring affair, despite India still appearing to keep their powder dry with the knockout stages in mind.

“When I went in to bat I felt the wicket was not on the flatter side,” said Jadhav.

“The ball was not coming that easily onto the bat so we had to take our time. And they had two or three quality spinners.

“And that doesn’t help when the wicket is slow.

“I think we can definitely improve on this, but I don’t see any other team having three or four quality spinners.”

Shami’s stunning hat-trick finally put paid to Afghanistan’s hopes of pulling off the mother of all World Cup shocks.

And Jadhav hailed his character for shaking off being hit for four in the first ball of that final over to recover and skittle Mohammad Nabi, Aftab Alam and Mujeeb Ur Rahman in succession.

“We believe in our fast bowlers to do the job for us at the death,” said Jadhav.

“It’s about how you come back after you are hit for four. And that’s what Shami did today. That’s when character comes into play.

“The pitch was slow so it was difficult to play shots. Our actual plan was 250, but we fell short.

“We knew we’d need to make up 20 or 30 runs in the field, so credit to the bowlers for defending this total.”

Rashid Khan was hit for a World Cup-record 110 runs from nine overs as Afghanistan were thrashed by England last time out.

At West End though, Khan returned fine figures of one for 38 from 10 overs, leaving captain Gulbadin Naib to praise the 20-year-old’s resolve.

“At one point I thought we might be able to win easily, but in the end we were all emotional inside,” said Naib.

“We’re upset because we had a chance for a victory which would be a big achievement for any team.

“Today we missed the opportunity to beat India. They are my favourite team and I support them when I am watching.

“Virat Kohli is my favourite player and it was great to play against him. But we came back strongly from our last game, which was important.

“Rashid had bowled pretty badly against England, and he came back well.”

India innings

KL Rahul c Hazratullah Zazai b Mohammad Nabi 30 (53)
RG Sharma b Mujeeb Ur Rahman 1 (10)
V Kohli (c) c Rahmat Shah b Mohammad Nabi 67 (63)
V Shankar lbw b Rahmat Shah 29 (41)
MS Dhoni † st †Ikram Alikhil b Rashid Khan 28 (52)
KM Jadhav c sub (Noor Ali Zadran) b Gulbadin Naib 52 (68)
HH Pandya c †Ikram Alikhil b Aftab Alam 7 (9)
Mohammed Shami b Gulbadin Naib 1 (2)
Kuldeep Yadav not out 1 (1)
JJ Bumrah not out 1 (1)
Extras 7 (w 7)
TOTAL 224/8 (50 overs)
Did not bat: YS Chahal
Fall of wickets: 1-7 (Rohit Sharma, 4.2 ov), 2-64 (KL Rahul, 14.2 ov), 3-122 (Vijay Shankar, 26.1 ov), 4-135 (Virat Kohli, 30.3 ov), 5-192 (MS Dhoni, 44.3 ov), 6-217 (Hardik Pandya, 48.4 ov), 7-222 (Mohammed Shami, 49.3 ov), 8-223 (Kedar Jadhav, 49.5 ov)
BOWLING: Mujeeb Ur Rahman 10-0-26-1, Aftab Alam 7-1-54-1, Gulbadin Naib 9-0-51-2, Mohammad Nabi 9-0-33-2, Rashid Khan 10-0-38-1, Rahmat Shah 5-0-22-1
Afghanistan innings (target: 225 runs from 50 overs)
Hazratullah Zazai b Mohammed Shami 10 (24)
Gulbadin Naib (c) c Shankar b Pandya 27 (42)
Rahmat Shah c Chahal b Bumrah 36 (63)
Hashmatullah Shahidi c & b Bumrah 21 (45)
Asghar Afghan b Chahal 8 (19)
Mohammad Nabi c Pandya b Mohammed Shami 52 (55)
Najibullah Zadran c Chahal b Pandya 21 (23)
Rashid Khan st †Dhoni b Chahal 14 (16)
Ikram Alikhil † not out 7
Aftab Alam b Mohammed Shami 0
Mujeeb Ur Rahman b Mohammed Shami 0 (1)
Extras 17 (b 4, lb 4, w 9)
TOTAL 213 all out (49.5 Overs, RR: 4.27)
Fall of wickets: 1-20 (Hazratullah Zazai, 6.3 ov), 2-64 (Gulbadin Naib, 16.5 ov), 3-106 (Rahmat Shah, 28.4 ov), 4-106 (Hashmatullah Shahidi, 28.6 ov), 5-130 (Asghar Afghan, 34.6 ov), 6-166 (Najibullah Zadran, 41.3 ov), 7-190 (Rashid Khan, 45.4 ov), 8-213 (Mohammad Nabi, 49.3 ov), 9-213 (Aftab Alam, 49.4 ov), 10-213 (Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 49.5 ov)
BOWLING: Mohammed Shami 9.5-1-40-4, JJ Bumrah 10-1-39-2, YS Chahal 10-0-36-2, HH Pandya 10-1-51-2, Kuldeep Yadav 10-0-39-0.