Following an average show against Hong Kong on Tuesday night, India came back strongly with a clinical performance on Wednesday against arch-rivals Pakistan to win their final league game by 8 wickets and as many as 21 overs to spare. And the script of this victory was written by the bowlers by bowling out Pakistan for 162 in the first inning. Rest were just formalities.
The Toss Advantage
Coming into this highly anticipated contest, winning the toss on that wicket was a huge advantage for Pakistan. In the press box, former cricketers like Aamir Sohail and Shoaib Akhtar were talking about the importance of getting the runs on the board. A lot of people believed, chasing over here is not an easy task, especially against this quality Pakistan bowling attack. They just had to bat sensibly to get a decent score on the board to put pressure on the vulnerable Indian batting order.
Nevertheless, a completely contrasting Indian bowling performance from last night spoiled the part for Pakistan.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who looked rusty and wayward against Hong Kong, stifled the top-order by getting rid of both Pakistani openers – Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman – within the first five overs of the match. From the other end Jasprit Bumrah, who was playing his first match in the tournament, kept it tight and built the pressure. There were no freebies on offer, which did not allow the batters to get away. After the first 30 balls of the game, Pakistan were tottering at 4/2.
Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik did put up some resistant to repair the damage. But once they got out, the middle and lower-middle order just succumbed under pressure.
Kedar Jadhav, meanwhile, showed once again why he should always be a part of India’s white-ball team, especially when they are playing on slow-low pitches. He is an underrated bowler, perhaps for his unique action. But with the ball in hand, he does the job. Jadhav’s 3 for 23 didn’t allow Pakistan to get any sort of momentum and they finished with a below par score. The fielders also supported the bowlers brilliantly.
Chasing 163 was not a tough ask on that pitch. Pakistan’s only chance of making India sweat was to take early breakthroughs and expose the Virat Kohli-less middle-order. But the 86-run opening stand between Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan did not allow that. And when the duo got out, Ambati Rayudu alongside Dinesh Karthik finished the job in style.
With the group stage done and dusted, India’s first ‘Super 4’ match will be against Bangladesh on Friday. Let’s hope we will get to see a competitive game.