Naseem Shah the star as India beat Pakistan by the skin of their teeth
DUBAI (92 News) - Debutant Naseem Shah was the hero as India defeated Pakistan by five wickets in an ACC T20 Asia Cup thriller at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
Naseem took a wicket on his second delivery and two balls later almost had Virat Kohli as he finished with highly impressive figures of 4-0-27-2. This included the last over he bowled while battling cramps and conceded 11 runs, as India reached the 148-run target with two balls to spare.
Before Naseem started the 17th over, Pakistan were penalised for a slow over-rate and had to bring one fielder inside the 30-yard circle. But Naseem showed tremendous courage and grit to overcome all the pain to leave India requiring 21 runs off the last two overs.
Haris Rauf conceded 14 off the penultimate and though Mohammad Nawaz dismissed Ravindra Jadeja on the first delivery, then conceded a single before bowling a dot ball, Hardik Pandya hit a six to seal one of the closest victories over Pakistan.
Pandya remained unbeaten on a 17-ball 33 with four fours and a six, while Jadeja, promoted to No.4, scored a 29-ball 35 with two fours and two sixes. Kohli, playing his 100th T20I and dropped by Fakhar Zaman in the second slip off Naseem, scored a 34-ball 35 with three fours and a six.
After Naseem bowled KL Rahul, Mohammad Nawaz picked up the wickets of Rohit Sharma (12) and Kohli as India slipped to 53 for three. When Naseem disturbed the symmetry of Suryakumar Yadav’s stumps, India were in a spot of bother at 89 for four in 14.2 overs.
However, Jadeja and Pandya added 52 runs for the fifth wicket and pulled India from the jaws of defeat.
Pakistan were gallant in the field and produced one of their finest performances. Apart from Naseem, Shahnawaz Dahani followed up his batting exploits by conceding 29 runs off his four overs, Shadab Khan returned figures of 4-0-19-0, Haris conceded 35 off his four overs and Nawaz finished with three for 33.
Earlier, Pakistan scored 79 runs in the second half of their innings for the loss of eight wickets to be bowled out for 147 in 19.5 overs. This included a six-ball 16 from last man Shahnawaz Dahani, who belted sixes off Bhuvneshwar Kumar (four for 26) and Arshdeep Singh (two for 33).
Dahani had joined Haris after Pakistan had slipped to 128 for nine in 18.3 overs after being 68 for two in 10 overs. Haris also had a little fun with the bat in front of a full house, hitting two fours in a seven-ball 13 not out as Pakistan’s last pair put on 19 invaluable runs in eight balls.
Apart from Dahani and Haris’s gutsy and courageous knocks, it was an otherwise unimpressive batting display by Pakistan as their top five batters succumbed to short-pitched deliveries.
Babar Azam, who played two gorgeous straight drives, was caught at short fine-leg trying to hook Kumar, Fakhar Zaman (10) was caught at the wicket trying to play an upper cut off Avesh Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed (28) was caught by wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik attempting to hook Pandya, Khushdil Shah (2) was caught at deep extra-cover trying to cut Pandya and top-scorer Mohammad Rizwan (43) was found in an awkward position to Pandya’s short of a length delivery and was caught at third-man.
Asif Ali, who has a reputation of being a power-hitter, was caught at mid-off off Kumar, who also pinned Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah in front of wickets in the penultimate over of Pakistan’s innings.
Pandya was the India bowler who exposed Pakistan middle-order batters’ vulnerability against short-pitched deliveries and finished with impressive figures of 4-0-25-3. Kumar, who had provided the early breakthrough by dismissing Babar, came back and added three more wickets to finish as the most successful bowler with four for 26.
Pakistan will now play Hong Kong in their second Group A match in Sharjah on Friday, 2 September.
Scores in brief:
India beat Pakistan by five wickets
Pakistan 147 all out, 19.5 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 43, Iftikhar Ahmed 28, Shahnawaz Dahani 16; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-26, Hardik Pandya 3-25, Arshdeep Singh 2-33)
India 148-5, 19.4 overs (Virat Kohli 35, Ravindra Jadeja 35, Hardik Pandya 33 not out; Mohammad Nawaz 3-33, Naseem Shah 2-27)
Player of the match: Hardik Pandya (India)