Pakistan Seem Better Prepared For This Rare Encounter As They Rout India By 10 Wickets!


A determined and aggressive Pakistan registered their first ever win against India in the ICC one-day and T20 World Cups after 12 losses suffered in consecutive tournaments. The first match Super-12 in Group-2 that promised to be a super Sunday thriller turned out to be a one-sided dampener with a listless Indian attack on the field as Pakistan beat India by 10 wickets. They overhauled India’s rather tricky target of 152 quite easily with all wickets standing and more than two overs remaining. However, the story of the encounter did have a very different beginning to which India could not reciprocate in the most fitting way.

 


In the midst of the syndrome of ‘chasing is the key for victory’ India captain Virat Kohli lost the toss to Pakistan captain Babar Azam and was put into bat as expected. Then the drama just began on the field: the fury of young leftie fast bowler Shaheen Afridi devouring Rohit Sharma in his first over and KL Rahul in his second over; the Indian captain mixing anchoring with selective aggression to prevent this team collapsing like the West Indies the previous day; the extra efforts being put in by the Pakistan fielders, normally considered a weaker fielding side; the explosive innings of Rishabh Pant (39) including two consecutive one-handed sixes off pacer Hasan Ali; with six wickets in hand in the 17th over the third Pakistan pacer Rauf holding Kohli and Jadeja back; Kohli notching up a precious half century; a still-charged Afridi capturing Virat (57) in his last and the match’s penultimate over; and the visibly palpable tension both in the players out on the field and among the fans of the two sides thronging the stadium in Dubai. It was perhaps apparent that any total above 100 should be enough to put pressure on the opponents. However, in a typical and a rare-variety-now India Vs Pakistan encounter anything was possible. And of course, living through the glorious elements of the game and the taut excitement is more than enough for the viewers out there or before the television/computer/mobile screens, whoever happens to win.

 

Shaheen Afridi 3/31

Finally, India achieved the total of 150 runs in the penultimate ball of the last over and one run in the last ball with Bhuvaneshwar Kumar taking the charge of batting out the over. As if achieving 150 runs were a milestone it was now up to Pakistan to handle the tension and pressure of the classic encounter. Their bowlers and fielders did a fair job and not a single catch was dropped, and now the focus was on the Pak batsmen. Would Virat’s team be able to reciprocate with an equally charged-up performance on the field was the question in the minds of all spectators, commentators and others. India have opted for Bhuvi in place of spinner R Ashwin which meant India had two spinners, Jadeja and Chakravarthy, as against Pakistan’s three spinners. How would this decision turn out to be was another question. However, in the Indian innings Pakistan’s three pacers captured 6 out of the 7 Indian wickets to fall.

 

Bhuvaneshwar Kumar opened the Indian innings and Pak openers Rizwan-Babar notched up 10 runs and then 9 runs in the second over bowled by Mohammed Shami. Why Jasprit Bumrah was not preferred to open the attack came out as another question the answer to which would obviously come later. Bumrah did indeed bowl the third over of the Pak innings, but somewhat the expected Indian aggression got affected a little adversely perhaps. And the Pakistan openers succeeded in crafting a sound start as against India’s laborious one which had the potential of becoming the turning point of the match. After 10 overs Pakistan were nicely placed at 71/0 while India were in a precarious situation at 60/3. Pakistan seemed to be better prepared for this typically rare encounter much better than India, despite the former’s absence in the IPL-2021.

 

And yes indeed, it turned out to be much more than a turning point with the Pakistan openers going on undaunted crossing the 100-run partnership mark. Surprisingly, all the elements we talked about in the beginning went missing in the Indian attack. Not a single India bowler being able to apply enough pressure on the openers as the desperation for a wicket grew overpowering. We can say India missed a third spinner, but the two spinners available also failed to impress. The ‘dew factor’ also seemed to disadvantage India bowlers. The question of continuing with the non-bowling Pandya would be an important question, because technically R Ashwin is a better batsman too. Then the somewhat lesser aggression demonstrated by the Indians on the field, as we mentioned earlier, is another crucial territory to ponder upon. The only palpable tension combined with growing frustration was now visible only in the Indian supporters and fans. Anyway, as we again mentioned in the beginning, it was a treat to all cricket lovers, and the Indian supporters should not feel depressed as to which team finally won, we must give credit to the incredible performances of Rizwan (79 not out) and Babar (68 not out). This is Pakistan’s first ever 10-wicket win in ICC tournament matches. However, the fact remains that the apparently very easy roller-coaster 10-wicket victory for Pakistan turned out to be an anti-climax.

 

In other Super-12 Group-1 matches Australia labored to a win in the last over in a low-scoring match against South Africa; in the second, one of the lowest-scoring matches, the West Indies demonstrated one of their uniquely unpredictable collapses folding up for just 54 runs all-out against England, and the latter obviously won it comfortably enough; and Sri Lanka launched a glorious chase of 172 runs to beat Bangladesh. So far, in all the four Super-12 matches the chasing side won. Sluggish pitches and the dew factor later in the night combined with this trend is becoming a big concern for the World Cup tournament—winning the toss seemingly becoming the ‘winning’ factor.

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