India beat Pakistan by 5 wickets last night to complete a handsome and memorable win against their arch rivals in the Asia Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur. It was a total batting collapse from the Pakistan batsmen as they were bundled out for 83 on a difficult, seaming wicket.
After an early scare which saw Mohammad Amir produce one of the best spells in recent T20 history dismissing three Indian top order batsmen, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh stitched a partnership to take India out of a spot of bother, and skipper MS Dhoni completed the humiliation in the 15th over with a boundary.
Here are the five turning points from a rather disappointingly one-sided India-Pakistan match.
1. India dismiss the dangerous Hafeez and in-form Sharjeel Khan
Pakistan needed a solid start to post a competitive total last night, but their cause wasn’t helped with the early dismissals of Mohammad Hafeez and Sharjeel Khan. Hafeez edged an Ashish Nehra delivery to MS Dhoni while Sharjeel chased a Jasprit Bumrah delivery outside the off-stump and sliced it to Ajinkya Rahane at Gully. First blood to India!
2. Afridi’s casual running
Pakistan were reeling at 35 for 5 when the old warhorse Afridi came in to bat. Yuvraj Singh was called upon by skipper MS Dhoni to bowl ahead of the likes of Ashwin and Jadeja, fully justified the faith shown in him by trapping Umar Akmal leg-before-wicket. Needless to say, only a counter-attacking innings from India could have given Pakistan some hope of posting a competitive score.
But after flicking Yuvraj to square leg, a rather casual and reckless Afridi decided to challenge Ravindra Jadeja’s arm and ended up miserably short, despite a late dive. If this were the Afridi of old, he would have made his ground comfortably. But not a 36-year old Afridi. An unfortunate way to the Pakistan captain to depart, and at that moment, a Pakistan comeback looked impossible.
3. A magical first over from Amir
Mohammad Amir’s comeback in the Pakistan squad received a mixed response, some welcomed the fast bowler with open arms while some senior cricketers were of the view that Amir had tainted Pakistan cricket forever and should not be welcomed back.
Pakistan must have been resigned to the obvious after posting a total of 83, but Amir, who had kept quiet all along, decided to let his ball do the talking. Pakistan were dreaming again.
Amir swung his second delivery gorgeously to trap Rohit Sharma leg-before-wicket before a similar in-swinger got the better of Ajinkya Rahane who has trapped plumb. India in trouble at 2 for 2.
4. Kohli and Amir at the top of their game, sparing no inch.
After Suresh Raina’s dismissal, Amir had surreal figures of 3 for 3. That is where Virat Kohli came to the fore and produced an unassailable innings to weather the storm. Amir was threatening to run away with the match when Kohli calmly took the measure of the situation and decided to play out Amir’s spell, with ease and pure class. It was wonderful to see two cricketers at the top of their game, throwing everything at each other, neither sparing an inch. India weathered out the Amir tsunami and were relatively well placed at 35 for 3 after 8 overs.
5. Kohli hammering Wahab Riaz to blow the Pakistan challenge away
Virat Kohli played an innings he would be proud of when he looks back on his career. After playing out Amir’s spell, Virat decided to take the attack to Wahab Riaz, given Yuvraj was being consistently troubled by Mohd. Irfan. Riaz’ first ball had enough width outside the off-stump for Kohli to play the textbook cover drive for four. On the very next ball, he flicked him on the leg-side for a couple and he produced a gorgeous on-drive using his wrists of the third ball for another boundary.
15 came off that over, and India were in command to take the match.