India wins a battle of attrition against Pakistan as Hardik Pandya delivers all-round show

By Kshvid News Desk


India edged out Pakistan in a nail-biting thriller by five wickets at the Dubai International Stadium as the two teams finally delivered a game worthy of the pre-match hype. Hardik Pandya was the star man for India as his all-round abilities were on show with 3 wickets and 33 runs, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar also impressed with a four-wicket haul. 

Having won the toss, Rohit Sharma had no hesitation in fielding first in Dubai, where chasing teams have won most of the games. India left out Rishabh Pant from the playing XI and picked Dinesh Karthik, while Naseem Shah made his T20I debut. 

Bhuvneshwar Kumar took the big wicket of Babar Azam in the powerplay for 10, while Avesh Khan dismissed Fakhar Zaman to give India a good start. Mohammed Rizwan could not get going as he struggled on his way to a 42-ball 43. Pakistan were 128/9 at one stage but cameos from Haris Rauf and Shahnawaz Dahani took Pakistan to a competitive 147. 

India did not get off to a great start either as KL Rahul was castled on the second ball by Naseem Shah. Virat and Rohit looked nervous and scratchy and were eventually dismissed in quick succession. At this stage, Jadeja and Hardik formed a crucial partnership, which took India close. Needing seven off the last over, Jadeja was bowled first ball and with 6 needed off 3 balls, Hardik finished the match with a six. 


Hardik Pandya rises to the occasion

It was in the Asia Cup four years ago that Hardik Pandya suffered a career-derailing back injury that kept him out of the side for a long time. Hence, it was apt that the all-rounder announced his return to the international stage at the same tournament and even in the same country. 

Pandya came into the attack in the 5th over, just when Pakistan were trying to get going after losing Babar Azam. He started off with a full and wide delivery, which was dispatched for four and brought his length back straight away. The pitch was responding when the ball was bowled short, which played perfectly to Pandya’s strengths. He went for 15 runs in two overs in his first spell. 

He got the wicket of Iftikhar Ahmed on the first ball of his 2nd spell with a surprise bouncer at 142kmph to break the partnership. He then dismissed a set Rizwan in his next over with another 141 clicks bouncer and Kushdil Shah fell for his short-ball ploy in the same over. He finished with figures of three for 25 from his four overs. 

Hardik came into bat at 89/4 after India lost Suryakumar Yadav and immediately struck a boundary off Naseem Shah. With the asking rate under 10 for most of the game, Hardik dealt in singles and twos for the most part. With the equation down to a tricky 21 off 12, Hardik targetted Haris Rauf and struck three boundaries to virtually kill the game. Pakistan were only allowed four fielders outside the ring due to their slow over rate, which certainly helped Hardik’s case. He hit a six in the next over to seal the game for India. 


India win a battle of attrition against their arch-rivals

Attrition is a term that is probably overused in test match cricket but is generally not associated with the shortest format of the game. The hustle and bustle nature of T20 cricket doesn’t allow any form of attritional gameplay, which characterizes the oldest format of the game. 

But it certainly felt that way while watching the India and Pakistan game. The reason for it is probably because it was an India vs Pakistan game. The players’ natural tendencies seem to go out of the window when the two teams clashed, and that was the case once again on Sunday. 

Otherwise, you wouldn’t normally see Babar Azam, the world’s best T20I batter, mishit a pull shot to short fine leg. Against a different opposition, it probably would have sailed past the fielder at square-leg for a boundary. You wouldn’t see Mohammed Rizwan, the world’s No.3 T20I batsman, score 43 off 42 balls at a strike-rate of 102. You wouldn’t see Virat Kohli scoring at a similar pace. 

For all of Rohit Sharma’s talk prior to the tournament of not moving away from their newfound T20 template against any opposition, the Indian captain himself took a totally different approach, scoring 12 off 18 deliveries. Apart from a few lusty blows from Hardik Pandya at the end, not one batsman from either team managed to score freely, partly due to the occasion and due to some excellent bowling. 

Over the years, the team that was able to handle the enormous pressure that comes with this game has come out on the winning side. Both sets of players did seem to buckle under the pressure but India did just enough to secure victory against the old enemy.


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