By Yash Bhandigare
In Pakistan’s Super 4 encounter against India, Mohammad Nawaz stunned India with the bat after assisting in restricting them with the ball following a wild start. A week after India successfully chased an exciting group-stage finale, Pakistan paid India back by asking them to bat and winning with one ball remaining.
India batted excessively aggressively in the first half of their innings, conscious of the historical advantage for chasing teams in Dubai. However, they kept losing wickets, forcing Virat Kohli, who made significant strides toward his best with a 44-ball 60, to play a little more cautiously in the second. Despite the strong start, Pakistan only gave up 88 runs in the final ten overs on a belter. With 71 off 51, Mohammad Rizwan led the chase, but Nawaz gave the much-needed momentum. He was moved up to #4 and scored 42 runs off 20 deliveries to get Pakistan bacon track. Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah then accompanied them home, but not without a fuss.
India on the attack came with both Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. Rohit gave Naseem Shah the charge and blasted him over mid-off for four runs in the opening over alone. After that, he waited and pulled him for a six. Rahul reacted by smashing Naseem for two sixes in the third over, showing the determination of his own. In 4.2 overs, when batting first in T20 international matches, the two reached India’s second-fastest fifty ever.
The action kept unfolding everywhere as India had no desire to consolidate. The events that followed will put their faith in their strategy to the test. The sixth over began with a slower ball from Haris Rauf, which Rohit ultimately skyed. After the powerplay, Rahul attempted to hit the first ball for a six, but he chose the wrong one and ended up hitting Shadab Khan straight to long-on.
The intention remained unchanged. The first ball Suryakumar Yadav faced was hit for a boundary, the seventh time in 24 T20I innings. However, Nawaz and Shadab made it challenging for India to continue pushing the envelope. Suryakumar tried to sweep in the air at some point but was defeated by the length and holed out. Following a slow start, Rishabh Pant was defeated by a reverse sweep. In the 15th over, it was 131 for 5, with Hardik Pandya having been struck by a chip to midwicket.
Pakistan made a strong finish. In their eight overs, the spinners only managed to give away 56 runs while also picking up three wickets. When Kohli was present, at the death, when his strike rate was fantastic, especially when he got himself in, the fast bowlers weren’t having a great day.
However, there were no more six hitters to come. Kohli was batting with Deepak Hooda, the last recognised batter. Therefore, Kohli might have had to curb his aggression. Hooda had a couple of possibilities to hit because of the excellent bowling of the fast bowlers. Once again, Kohli had to farm the strike as a slower ball went straight to long-on. India reached 181 in the final two balls with just two misfields.
Despite India’s bowlers’ lack of speed compared to Pakistan’s, the Pakistan top three were initially troubled by their accuracy. Like what Pandya had done earlier against Mohammad Hasnain, Babar Azam chipped Ravi Bishnoi to mid-wicket. The accuracy of the bowlers prevented Fakhar Zaman, who had given up seven additional runs in the field, from having any freedom, which ultimately forced him to take chances. Pakistan needed 119 from 68 balls when Fakhar was out after 15 off 18 deliveries.
Even though Pakistan had a left-handed specialist in the middle of the order, they still elevated Nawaz. They may have felt the need for a cheap hitter to keep the asking rate in check because it was so high. Nawaz has also had success with big shots; he did it in both the PSL and domestic cricket. Nawaz might have been in good hitting form in the nets if he hadn’t come out and began batting average, relieving Rizwan of some of the load. The subsequent six overs were scored at the rate of 9, 10, 10, 11, and 16. The second ball Nawaz faced was guided for four. The next ball he faced, Nawaz hit Pandya for a massive six. Now mistakes started to appear. Rizwan was given a full toss by Yuzvendra Chahal, which resulted in another six. The quicks somewhat undershot their lengths. And the cameo lasted long enough for Pakistan to get within 46 of the victory with 27 balls remaining.
Pandya’s relentless wide lines forced Rizwan to leave. With one over remaining, Bishnoi bowled a fantastic 18th over, giving up just eight runs, reducing the equation to 26 of the final two overs. India was once again in the game, but they had also erred. Before Asif had even scored a run, Arshdeep Singh mishandled a sitter from him. Asif and Khushdil then used Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s 19th over, which was his second-costliest towards the death in T20 internationals, to offset Fakhar’s fielding mistakes. Then, in the 20th over, Asif smashed Arshdeep for a four, leaving Pakistan needing two runs off four balls. When two runs were needed off the final two balls, Arshdeep returned to trap his leg before Iftikhar Ahmed scored the winning runs with a low full-toss.
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