A big build-up preceded the encounter of India and Pakistan. It was expected to be a fierce contest. A packed crowd in Dubai awaited the traditional Indo-Pak rivalry that keeps everyone on the edge of the seats. Some were saying Pakistan would be the favorites having seen India’s labored victory over Hong Kong yesterday.
Expect the unexpected when the 2 sides are up against each other. The past doesn’t matter, the stats don’t matter and the previous game doesn’t matter either. What matters is which 11 people handle the pressure well and emerge on top on a given day. On this occasion, the Men in Blue rose to the occasion and made a light work of Pakistan.
Terrible start for Pakistan
It started with the toss when Sarfaraz Ahmed opted to bat after calling the right side of the coin. It’s easy to say in the hindsight that they should have bowled first. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was rusty in the last game, brought his A game against Pakistan. He bowled immaculate lines with the new ball and sent back the openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman for 2 and 0 respectively.
The batting side was dented early and India was on top. It was hard work against the new ball and even though Jasprit Bumrah didn’t pick up a wicket initially, he did apply constant pressure. The first 10 overs yielded only 25 runs.
Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik soaked in the pressure nicely after that. There was a wicketless patch in the game where the batsmen looked at ease. They took the score to 85/2 after 21 overs and Pakistan certainly made a comeback with that partnership. As Babar was inching towards his fifty, Kuldeep castled him for 47 with a beautiful wrong un.
Meanwhile, Hardik Pandya got injured and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. In his absence, Kedar Jadhav had to chip in for the bowling duties. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise for India. He removed the opposition skipper Sarfaraz for just 6 in the 25th over as Pakistan were left tottering at 96/4.
A collapse after solidity
Malik, who was shaping up well, got run out unfortunately for 43 courtesy Ambati Rayudu. Things went from bad to worse for the Men in Green as Asif Ali fell to Jadhav for 9. The off-spinner with his low trajectory deliveries was having a party in the middle as he bagged his 3rd wicket in the form of Shadab Khan. The score was 121/7 and India was firmly on top.
Mohammad Amir and Faheem Ashraf stuck together for 9 overs and added 37 runs for the 8th wicket. Bumrah came back into the attack and removed Ashraf for 21. Bhuvneshwar then accounted for Hasan Ali’s wicket and Bumrah scalped Usman Khan. Pakistan was bowled out for just 162 in 43.1 overs that signified a magnificent bowling effort by India.
The Hitman unleashed
The Indian openers, in reply, were cautious against the new ball. The Pakistani seamers were running in and were given the due respect by the Indian duo as the score read 17/0 after 6 overs. As Rohit spent a substantial amount of time in the middle, he got his eye in and began to open up. 2 fours to Amir and 2 sixes to Usman was the result of his initial patience.
Dhawan became a mere spectator as the Hitman took the bowling to the cleaners. The ball was sailing into the crowds courtesy some breathtaking pull shots. Very quickly, the score reached 86/0 after 13 overs and Rohit brought up his half-century off just 34 balls. The Men in Blue were absolutely cruising towards the target and the bowlers looked clueless.
Shadab came into the attack in the 14th over and removed Rohit off the first ball for 52. A few minutes later, the leg-spinner encountered an injury and walked off the field. Dhawan was nearing another fifty but lost his control and fell to Ashraf for 46 in the 17th over when the score had crossed the 3-figure mark.
India makes it past the line
Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik came together and smothered the bowling well. Only the formalities were remaining and there wasn’t any venom left in the bowling. Sarfaraz introduced 7 bowlers into the attack but the target wasn’t big enough to cause any concern.
Both the batsmen were keen to hang in and be there until the end. It indeed happened and India won the match by 8 wickets in the 29th over. Rayudu stayed unbeaten at 31 while Karthik too made 31 not out. As far as the India-Pakistan games are concerned, these 2 sides will again clash this Sunday in the Super 4 stage and possibly in the final as well if both make it.
Pakistan won the toss and opted to bat first
Pakistan: 162/10 in 43.1 overs
Babar Azam 47 (62), Shoaib Malik 43 (67)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 15/3 (7), Kedar Jadhav 23/3 (9)
India: 164/2 in 29 overs
Rohit Sharma 52 (39), Shikhar Dhawan 46 (54)
Shadab Khan 6/1 (1.3), Faheem Ashraf 31/1 (5)
India won by 8 wickets
Player of the Match: Bhuvneshwar Kumar