With Hardik Pandya’s amazing all-round blow, team India bounced back on Sunday evening to bowl out Pakistan for 147 runs as Indian batters ensured a thrilling 5-wicket win in the opening match of the Asia Cup 2022. It was in this same venue, that Pakistan had a win over India in the 2021 T20 World Cup 10 months back. Since then, the Men in Blue were waiting for another match to pull off a scrappy win over their arch-rivals.
Indian pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya’s astonishing wicket hauls on the agreeable pitch destroyed Pakistan’s batting line-up giving Indian batters a relatively modest target to go one step over Pakistan in the match.
Earlier in the game, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma won the most crucial toss and took the right decision to bowl first. The pitch was favorable for the pacers and they took the game to the next level. Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam opened the game for them. But the wicket of Babar by Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the third over disturbed the whole team as no one was able to add many runs to the scoreboard.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar had returned to the squad with figures of 4-26 in his four overs as he made the key breakthrough of the game by dismissing Babar Azam. While talking about the wicket after the match, he said, “Once Babar was dismissed, we did not think that half of the Pakistan team has been dismissed. As a team, we do not think that if the best batter is out, then half of the team is dismissed. But yes, once he was out, we knew their plans will be disturbed as the batter who plays the role of the anchor was gone,”.
The opener Mohammad Rizwan notched up some important runs for Pakistan (43 runs off 42), but was dismissed by Pandya before completing his fifty. Shahnawaz Dahani (16) added some important runs for Pakistan at the end to get them close to the 150-run mark.
The big square boundaries made it difficult for Pakistan to score boundaries as they were bowled out for 147 in 19.5 overs.
Hardik Pandya was bowling hard lengths for team India and picked 3 wickets for 25 in the crucial times. Arshdeep Singh also scored 2 wickets for the side.
The set of Indian bowlers have played a bulk of cricket there in UAE since the pandemic and they were very much familiar with the pitch. The two IPLs and a T20 World Cup earlier in the Dubai pitch have offered more pace and bounce.
In return, Indian top orders Rohit Sharma and K L Rahul opened the batting. But Rahul went out easily on the first ball itself. The skipper Rohit managed to score 12 runs off 18 balls and went out leaving the match to the middle orders. It was Virat Kohli (35 off 34) who kept the scoreboard ticking with a few boundaries in the beginning.
The substitution of 19-year-old Naseem Shah (2/27) in place of Afridi sent agitation to the Indian dressing room as he dismissed Rahul on the first ball and then later returned Suryakumar Yadav while he was on 18.
Mohammad Nawaz (3/33) helped Pakistan to pick up wickets in the middle overs. He got the wickets of Kohli and Rohit earlier. Then he destroyed the partnership of Hardik and Jadeja by dismissing Jadeja in the final over to make the team under pressure.
Ravindra Jadeja was sent out to bat at No. 4 in the absence of Rishabh Pant and he laboured 35 runs off 29 balls. It was his 29-ball 52-run partnership with Hardik Pandya that led India to a spectacular win.
Pandya came up with an unbeaten 33-run knock of just 17 balls to seal the win. He ensured that the team does not slip up in the middle. He has got boundaries in the penultimate over as he finished things off with a maximum and opened India’s account in the tournament.
“Till the time Hardik scored runs, the match was 50-50. We were praying that Hardik scores runs. I can just pray that Hardik continues with his performances and he stays in this form in the World Cup as well,” Bhuvneshwar said during the post-match press conference.
Pandya stood firm with balls running out and the main thing about him was to remain calm throughout the game. He has worked a lot on himself and earned the player-of-the-match award.
Pakistan bowlers also showed a real fight in the game. The debut of Naseem Shah was phenomenal. The game kept the fans engrossed till the very end but the game ended in favor of India.
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