India beat Pakistan in a cracker of a game with just two balls to spare – as the Indian all-rounders showed why they are the best doing the rounds in world cricket – ensuring a five-wicket win on Sunday at the Dubai International Stadium.
While Indians will have a better night than their neighbours, the fans could have not asked for a better match, as their nails must have been chewed in the last few overs of the match.
Asked to bat first after losing the toss, Pakistan managed a total of 147 and were all out with one ball to spare. Thanks to Mohammed Rizwan’s slow but steady 43 of 42 balls and a late flurry of boundaries from Shahnawaz Dahani gave an impetus to the Pakistan scorecard.
Spinner Mohammed Nawaz was brilliant with the ball as he scalped the important wickets of Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma, and more importantly, bowled Ravindra Jadeja in the last over just when India seemed to cruise away with the win.
However, India ended on the winning side, with Kohli and Jadeja ending up as the leading run-scorers for the side in the match.
Here are five talking points from the match –
India’s short bowling strategy
India were clinical with the ball right throughout the first innings as they never allowed the Men in Green to settle themselves with the bat.
India used the short ball strategy to their advantage as they scalped the wickets of skipper Babar Azam, anchoring batter Mohammed Rizwan, and several others in the line-up.
Interestingly, Bhuvneshwar Kumar scalped three of his four-wicket bowling short-length deliveries. Hardik Pandya as well troubled the batters with short deliveries and bagged all three of his wickets on short deliveries.
The short-pitched deliveries took the batters by surprise as they threw their wickets to leading edges and some unorthodox shots.
As many as six wickets fell to short of good length and short-pitched deliveries from Indian pacers, as the Pakistan batters struggled to get a steady partnership.
While Bhuvi was a success as ever, Pandya ended up with scintillating figures of 3/25 in his spell of four overs. The all-rounder has come of age and stood up to the occasion whenever India has needed him.
Mohammed Rizwan’s silent innings
Before Rizwan got out to Pandya’s short ball, he seemed in good touch and was anchoring the Pakistan innings, though not in an aggressive manner.
Rizwan scored 43 runs – in what turned out to be run-a-ball innings – in 42 deliveries. He hit four 4s and a solitary 6 in his steady-looking innings.
The batters kept revolving around Rizwan till the 15th over and were choked for runs by the Indian bowlers.
Pakistan managed only 68 runs in 10 middle overs – 7th to 16th overs to be specific, losing three wickets in the process.
Virat Kohli – Rohit Sharma’s partnership and needless shots
The two senior-most India batters stood long on the crease, but it seemed like Rohit had forgotten the approach he has talked about since he became the captain in shorter formats.
Kohli, who looked sloppy at the start and also got a couple of lifelines – a drop in the slips, inside edge going over the stumps, and a miscue over mid-off fielder – settled with a Kohliesque pull shot of Haris Rauf.
Kohli seemed to have found his lost touch as he played some exciting shots and kept the strike rotating. Rohit on the other hand was choked for runs as he scored only four runs of the first 11 balls.
The skipper finally seemed to have settled when he hit a six off Mohammed Nawaz. However, a ball later he again tried to go for a maximum, but could only find the fielder at long off.
An over later, Kohli got out in a similar fashion to the same bowler, as he too aimed for a loft over long-off but was caught in the deep, giving Nawaz a hat-trick opportunity.
The two batters getting out in a span of eight deliveries only resulted in pressure on the middle order and dampened India’s chances of a comfortable victory.
Naseem Shah’s fiery debut
Naseem Shah had a scintillating debut as he lit up the ground as well as the stadium in India’s first over itself. Shah started with a wicket of the second ball as KL Rahul chopped an inside edge onto the stumps.
A delivery later, he got Kohli to edge in a traditional outside off stump full-length delivery but was dropped at the second slip.
To add to the drama, Rohit Sharma was beaten on the last ball of the over, but the Pakistan fielders thought there was an edge and appealed in unanimity. However, the umpire denied the appeal.
Shah also bagged the wicket of Surya Kumar Yadav in the 15th over, disturbing the furniture, as he was beaten for pace.
Despite Shah having cramped his legs towards the fag end of the innings, he continued to bowl but was punished with a four and a six in the 18th over.
Hardik Pandya’s all-round show
The all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been brilliant in recent times and once again showed why he is the best all-rounder in world cricket.
While he bowled well sticking to the short-pitch strategy, his moment came in the second innings as he ensured an India victory in an edge of the sit ending.
Pandya hit three 4s in the 19th over and put one foot in the victory door, leaving just seven runs to win in the last over. Nawaz, however, ensured that India didn’t walk home easy and got the well-settled Jadeja’s wicket. Pandya, however, was as calm and nonchalant as anyone could be and smacked a maximum over long-on to end the match in India’s favour.
Earlier, he got the important wicket of Mohammed Rizwan (43) after sending back Iftikhar Ahmed (28), both of short-pitched deliveries.
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