Hardik Pandya (33* 17b, 4x4x, 1x6) and Ravindra Jadeja (35, 29b,2x4, 2x6) kept their cool under pressure to guide India to a five-wicket win over Pakistan in the Asia Cup at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.
The duo got together at 89 for four, with India chasing 148. Pakistan was on top at this stage, but the all-rounders hung around to chip away at the total. With seven needed off the last over, Jadeja lost his stumps to left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz. It took a mighty six from Pandya to finish the job.
Virat Kohli’s milestone 100th T20I nearly ended in disaster, when he slashed at a full ball from Naseem Shah. Fakhar Zaman, at second slip, was a tad slow to react and put down a tough chance.
Kohli moved to 35, before a moment of indecision brought his downfall. He danced down the track to Nawaz, but failed to get to the pitch of the ball and chipped it to long-off.
Skipper Rohit Sharma looked out of sorts in his short stay at the crease. A frustrated Rohit tried to hit his way into some rhythm, but could only sky it to the fielder. Fellow opener K.L. Rahul (0), not for the first time, got an inside edge onto his stumps.
Faced with a stiff equation, Suryakumar Kumar (18, 18b, 1x4) went for a big one. Naseem was up to the task, keeping it straight to castle Suryakumar.
After winning the crucial toss, Rohit was quick to put Pakistan in to bat. The Indian pacers resorted to a barrage of short-pitched deliveries, which accounted for the first five wickets. Skipper and form batter Babar Azam was taken out in the third over, his hook off Bhuvneshwar Kumar popping to short fine-leg.
Zaman chose to walk after getting a faint nick, even if the Indians were hesitant to appeal. Iftikhar Ahmed's rushed hook was taken cleanly by wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, giving Pandya his first wicket.
Opener Mohammad Rizwan struggled to get going in his 42-ball 43. An awkward ramp shot off Pandya ended his stint.
Khushdil Shah failed to learn from the mistakes made by his teammates, going for a cut-off yet another short ball from Pandya. He was late on the shot, slashing it to Ravindra Jadeja at sweeper cover.
Pakistan found itself in a hole at 97 for five. Bhuvneshwar ensured no escape, coming into the attack to send back the last recognised pair of Shadab Khan and Asif Ali. Last man Shahnawaz Dahani struck a couple of sixes to give the Pakistan fans something to cheer about.
India erred with a terribly slow over rate, which resulted in a penalty of bringing in an extra fielder into the circle for the lastthree overs. Pakistan, in survival mode at this point, failed to capitalise. On another occasion, this lethargy in keeping time could have cost the Indians dear.
Pakistan was not any better, similarly falling three overs short of the time limit.
In a surprise move, India chose to leave out Rishabh Pant out of the eleven. Dinesh Karthik was picked as the wicketkeeper-batter instead, perhaps a result of his recent evolution as a clinical finisher.
Brief scores: Pakistan 147 (Mohammad Rizwan 43, Iftikhar Ahmed 28; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-26) vs India 148/5 (Ravindra Jadeja 35, H
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