Dubai, Sep 05, 2022, IANS
For the second time in a week, an India-Pakistan match went down the wire. For the second time in Asia Cup 2022, the outcome of an India-Pakistan match was decided in the final over.
But this time, Pakistan were on the winning side, defeating India by five wickets, with a ball to spare in the second Super Four stage match at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. In a match, where fortunes swung wildly, left-arm spin all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz played a decisive role.
With his four overs, Nawaz conceded just 25 runs and took out Suryakumar Yadav in a tight spell which applied brakes on India's innings after Rohit Sharma and K.L Rahul came out all guns blazing in a 54-run opening stand.
Reverting back to their aggressive attacking approach, Virat Kohli top-scored with 60 off 44 balls, hitting four fours and a six, while running hard between the wickets and was superb against pacers in an innings even as others hit boundaries and fell in a bid to go big.
Chasing a competitive 181/7, Mohammad Rizwan anchored the chase with a 51-ball 71. But the game turner was Nawaz's promotion to four, striking 42 off 20 balls, including six fours and two sixes, giving a much-needed impetus to Pakistan's chase.
With 26 runs needed from the last two overs, Khushdil Shah and Asif Ali took 19 runs off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 19th over. Arshdeep Singh, who dropped Ali for duck an over earlier, got the equation to two runs off two balls. But Iftikhar Ahmed sealed the match in Pakistan's favour with a ball to spare.
Sharma and Rahul gave India a rollicking start by hitting eight boundaries to get the team fifty in 4.2 overs. Haris Rauf broke the opening stand in the final over of the powerplay, as Sharma mishit a slower ball to point.
India's second wicket fell on the very first ball post-powerplay as Rahul holed out to long-on off Shadab. Kohli began by getting two fours to continue India's high-risk approach. But he ran out of partners from the other end as Nawaz struck in the tenth over, having Suryakumar Yadav slog-sweeping straight to backward square leg.
With Nawaz keeping things tight, Kohli took to taking fours off Shah and Hasnain through pulls and drives. But Rishabh Pant, after hitting two fours, reverse-swept straight to backward point off leggie Shadab Khan. In the next over, Hardik Pandya punched a cross-seam ball from Mohammad Hasnain straight to a forward diving short mid-wicket to depart for a two-ball duck.
Deepak Hooda's first four was driven firmly through the gap between mid-off and extra cover off Rauf. He then arched back to ramp a bouncer from Hasnain over the keeper's head. Kohli got his fifty in 36 balls with some style, whipping Hasnain over deep mid-wicket for six.
The last two overs didn't bring a glorious finish for India as Hooda skied high to long-on off Shah while Kohli fell inches short of his crease while trying to complete the second run. But misfields in the deep on the last two balls gave India back-to-back fours, taking the total above 180.
In defence of 181, leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi struck in his first over as Babar Azam chipped straight to mid-wicket. Rizwan didn't let the tempo down, taking two fours off Pandya's first over and then whipping Arshdeep superbly off his wrists over a backward square leg.
Post power-play, India kept things tight by keeping Fakhar Zaman under check. They were rewarded when an under-pressure Zaman holed out straight to long-on off Yuzvendra Chahal.
Nawaz, promoted to four, began by cutting Chahal past short third man for four. He then clobbered Pandya over long-on for a much-needed six. While Rizwan slog-swept Chahal for six over mid-wicket, Nawaz also nailed the same shot off Bishnoi.
Rizwan, who was once at 13 off 14, got his fifty in 37 balls while Nawaz hammered Arshdeep down the ground and slammed fours off Pandya throu'h cover and over the keeper's head to keep Pakistan in the match.
Nawaz then capitalised on Chahal's loose deliveries by placing fours through leg-side, before Rizwan cut through backward point to pick the third four in a 16-run 15th over. Bhuvneshwar broke the 73-run stand in the 16th over by having the dangerous Nawaz give a comfortable catch to long-off on an off-cutter. Pandya's strategy to bowl outside off worked when Rizwan lofted a slower ball straight to long-off.
Ali survived a tight caught behind call off Bishnoi in the 18th over and got a reprieve on the very next ball as Arshdeep dropped a sitter at short third man. With the equation at 26 off 12 balls, Ali, Shah and Ahmed managed to complete a terrific chase for Pakistan.
Brief Scores: India 181/7 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 60, Rohit Sharma 28; Shadab Khan 2/31, Mohammad Nawaz 1/25) lost to Pakistan 182/5 in 19.5 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 71, Mohammad Nawaz 42; Ravi Bishnoi 1/26, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1/40) by five wickets