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IND vs PAK: Hardik finishes the match with a six, and India wins by five wickets with two balls to spare.

India vs Pakistan (IND vs PAK) T20 Asia Cup 2022: In their first Asia Cup match, India defeated Pakistan by five wickets. Batting first, Pakistan set India a target of 148 runs, which India achieved despite losing five wickets. India has thus avenged its 2021 defeat.

The toss was won by Rohit Sharma, who elected to bowl. Babar Azam, Pakistan’s captain, stated that he would have done the same. India was almost there after five short balls and five wickets. But then Naseem Shah got KL Rahul to drag a length ball on to his stumps, Virat Kohli escaped a difficult chance at third slip, and Rohit Sharma almost edged a beauty to the wicketkeeper, bringing India back down to earth. The goal was 148 points, but India was not going to win easily. In contrast, Hardik Pandya held his nerve and swatted three boundaries in the 19th over before carting Mohammad Nawaz over his head for a flat six to win the game with two balls to spare.

But it wasn’t a canter. Until the 15th over, India was swept by a rollercoaster of emotions—Sharma slog-sweeping Mohammad Nawaz for a six over midwicket but miscuing it to long-off when trying a straighter shot, Kohli flattering with a top-edged six over his head but checking his lifted shot to almost laser-guide it to long-off—until it fell to the less experienced but more informed middle-order to work their way out of the mess but hold on. India surprised everyone by selecting Dinesh Karthik over Rishabh Pant.
And, because Karthik is the designated slog-overs specialist, Ravindra Jadeja was sent in at the fall of the third wicket to stop the slide and throw the Pakistan bowlers off track with a left-right combination.
Pakistan’s pace slowed, but India’s did as well. India fought back from 62/3 in 10 overs to 65 off 42 by the end of the 13th. Gettable, but this is India-Pakistan, so multiply the win percentage by the crippling doubt that such a match can instil in the system. Shadab Khan had already bowled four overs for 19 runs to put India under pressure before Shahnawaz Dahani and Shah took over. Dahani restricted India’s innings even further, conceding only six runs before Shah returned to remove Suryakumar Yadav’s off stump. At 89/4, India was really gasping for air in the face of Pakistan’s disciplined bowling.
Hardik Pandya replaced Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Khushdil Shah, who had been fired earlier. Pandya declared his intention to not back down with a ferocious slap behind point for four. With India needing 32 off 18 balls, Shah bowled a slow bouncer that was too high and too short before Jadeja belted him through the covers for a boundary. Off the fifth ball, Jadeja hit another six over Shah’s head, bringing the total to 21 off 13. Pakistan had a chance, but Pandya snuffed it out by milking Haris Rauf for 14 runs in the penultimate over before winning the game the next over.
However, India’s bowling was the high point. Six overs of spin by Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravindra Jadeja produced 43 runs and kept Pakistan at bay, but the real damage was done by bouncers, with fast bowlers taking all ten wickets for the first time in India’s T20I history. Of course, the short ball was crucial. “When we looked at the wicket, we thought it would swing, but there was no swing,” said Bhuveneshwar Kumar, who finished with 4/26. “There was some bounce, but we know what balls we need to bowl. Few were skidding and some were coming slowly when you bowled short. To be honest, we gave Pakistan an extra 10-15 runs. On this wicket, the new ball is always tricky. There may be some bounce for their bowlers as well, but I believe our batters will be able to overcome it.

Azam was made to weave in and out of seaming deliveries until Kumar set him up with a bouncer that got big on Pakistan’s captain. Arshdeep Singh, who was standing at short fine-leg, made no mistake when he top-edged it. The crowd was so loud that the umpire didn’t hear a faint edge off Fakhar Zaman’s bat, but he walked in the sixth over to put Pakistan at 42/2. The only worthwhile partnership followed, when Ahmed and Rizwan added 45 runs, but Pakistan was never able to build on that. Pakistan then stumbled and scored in unison. India bowled well, varying their lengths and pace and not allowing Pakistan to cross the boundary. Pandya took Rizwan and Ahmed, and Pakistan was on the verge of collapsing unless Dahani hit two sixes to help them reach 147.



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