UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Hardik Pandya saved the game up with bat and ball to lead India to a nail-biting victory over Pakistan in the Asia cup’s first match.
Hardik Pandya’s all-round brilliance powered India to a thrilling five-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan.
In the first innings, Hardik Pandya used the short ball expertly on a high-pitch bounce to bowl with pace and fury, returning figures of 4-0-25-3 and limiting Pakistan to 147.
During India’s batting, Hardik Pandya blasted three boundaries in the 19th over on a sluggish pitch. Mohammad Nawaz even brought it to six needed off three in the twentieth. However, Hardik sealed it with a flat six over long-on to finish with 33 off 17.
The cramping of two of Pakistan’s crucial death bowlers, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf, worsened matters. Nawaz ended up bowling the final over because India promoted Ravindra Jadeja after the two spinners had India in a chokehold in the middle overs by both spinning the ball away from right-handed batters.
Nawaz was immediately smashed for a six and a four by Jadeja, forcing them to postpone his final over. The fact that India knew they still had that over meant the asking rate never reached them; the ball was delivered with an additional fielder in the circle.
The Bhuvi show
It was important for India to win the toss since there was grass on the field and because of Dubai’s history. They anticipated a swing but received none. Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a surprising bouncer to Babar Azam while seam movement was still available.
The line was wide, so Babar had to collect it despite the daring change-up that had both the third and fine leg within the circle. He could only manage a top edge for a short, exquisite leg to catch.
Just as Pakistan attempted to maximise the last powerplay over, Avesh Khan recovered from a six and a four with another short ball that knocked the top edge off a Fakhar Zaman cut. When Pakistan was 43 for 2, they had already lost the game.
Mohammad Rizwan was trailing by a run for every ball because he simply couldn’t adapt to the field.
He had trouble timing any of his big-hit attempts. Even though it was not his strong suit to bat against spinners, Iftikhar Ahmed still managed to score 28 runs off of 22 in a 45-run partnership.
Pakistan needed to move quickly with eight overs left in the innings. At this point, Hardik Pandya returned and began to bowl with enormous speed and bounce. Iftikhar took a top edge on the hook with the first ball because it was simply too high and fast for him. Rizwan and Khushdil Shah were both eliminated by Hardik with a short ball in the 15th over, bringing the score to 103 for 5.
Some Hits from Dahani and Rauf
Bhuvneshwar’s pinpoint knuckle balls then reduced Pakistan to 128 for 9, but Shahnawaz Dahani and Rauf still managed to score 29 runs off 13 balls combined. Dahani hit a hook to a slower bouncer and two beautiful sixes, one over long-on and the other over midwicket.
Impressive fast bowling from Pakistan
India’s innings went off to a chaotic start. With the second ball of his T20I career, Naseem asked KL Rahul to continue playing. At second slip, Virat Kohli was then dismissed for a duck. Edges crossed over the wicket. Rohit Sharma had the slowest powerplay of a T20I match as he kept getting outmuscled on the outside edge.
While the ball continued to bounce around, Kohli produced a beautiful front-foot draw over wide mid-on and a back-foot punch in between. At 38 for 1, Pakistan was still in the game when the powerplay was over.
A brief stand
Particularly when Rohit and Kohli are teaming up to bat against spin, it’s tricky for India. They didn’t mess around if that was any solace. With the final ball of the eighth over and the first ball of the tenth, Nawaz was able to catch them on the boundary despite their aggressive smashes on this surface.
India improvised and placed Jadeja at No. 4 between those two wickets. There are two goals behind that action. They learn how effective Jadeja can be when given greater responsibility in the batting order, and they also pressure Pakistan to adjust. Of course, none of this would matter unless Jadeja could improve upon his dismal record against spin, which he did by using his feet to hit those boundaries against Nawaz and force Pakistan to bat out his final over.
Both sides tussle
Jadeja has since ceased taking chances. Suryakumar Yadav made an attempt, but Nasem’s seam movement flattened his off stump. Then, Hardik Pandya and Jadeja chose safe runs to see how long Pakistan could postpone Nawaz’s arrival.
Particularly Hardik was competent enough to build up at a respectable rate. The bowlers started to have cramps. India practised the art of patience. 32 runs off of three overs seemed easier than it should have because even Pakistan was found to be three overs short.
Hardik Pandya’s all-round brilliance
It was evident that Pakistan was going to try their best bets first when Naseem started on the 18th. But Naseem’s cramps got so bad they were incapacitating. He was hardly able to charge in, but he only allowed five runs off the first four balls. He was almost successful in lbwing Jadeja, but the batter successfully appealed the ruling. It was the decisive blow when Jadeja timed him over long on for a six.
Then, Hardik employed the extra fielder to set his boundaries rather than muscling them. India needed seven runs to win in Nawaz’s over after three fours in the 19th. Jadeja was bowled while attempting to play the slog-sweep in the final twist, which reduced the number of runs needed to six of the last three.
Karthik has an average record against spin, so Pakistan had a chance if they could keep Hardik off the strike. To win the match for India, Hardik calmly struck a flat six over wide long-on.
India 148 for 5 (Kohli 35, Jadeja 35, Hardik 33*, Nawaz 3-33, Naseem 2-27) beat Pakistan 147 all out (Rizwan 43, Iftikhar 28, Dahani 16*, Bhuvneshwar 4-26, Hardik 3-25) by five wickets.