India started off brilliantly with the ball with Bhuvneshwar Kumar hitting the right areas early on. While Mohammad Rizwan overturned an LBW decision against him and survived a caught-behind review from India, the early movement gave India hope.
Bhuvneshwar, however, resorted to the surprise short ball strategy to send back Babar Azam for 10 and give India the early wicket. Soon Fakhar Zaman walked off, having felt a nick to a short one from Avesh Khan, to hand India the advantage in the Powerplay.Mohammad Rizwan found able support from Iftikhar Ahmed and the duo rebuilt for Pakistan in a promising partnership. Iftikhar found the fence a few times and even hit a six off Yuzvendra Chahal, but Hardik Pandya brought India back into the game with a double strike.
He first had Iftikhar caught behind with a sharp bouncer to break the partnership and then went on to dismiss Rizwan and Khushdil Shah in the space of three balls in the next over to leave Pakistan reeling at 97/5, the short ball ploy clearly putting Pakistan in an uncomfortable situation.After 17 overs, Pakistan still had just 114 on board, and they lost Mohammad Nawaz off the first ball of the next over, but Haris Rauf and Shahnawaz Dahani gave them a fighting total with some lusty blows towards the end.
33 runs came off the last three overs as Pakistan put up a competitive total on a tricky wicket in Dubai. With 147 on board, it was still quite a task to stop India’s star-studded batting line-up.
Naseem Shah, who was making his T20I debut, after an impressive showing in the Netherlands in the ODIs, gave India an early jolt when he sent back KL Rahul for a golden duck with a pacy delivery that took the inside edge onto the stumps.
While it was Rohit Sharma who fell for a duck in the first over in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup fixture last year between these sides, it was Rahul this time that left India in early trouble. Naseem’s rise offers Pakistan several options ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia.
Virat Kohli walked in at No.3 and survived a dropped catch two balls later, but went on to cash in on his slice of luck as Rohit settled in. Kohli remained a tad edgy, but his intent ensured India were out of the rut. But before the budding stand with Rohit could bloom in full, Pakistan struck again, this time with Mohammad Nawaz.Nawaz struck with the wicket of Rohit Sharma shortly after the batter had smashed him for a six and the breakthrough put Pakistan back in the contest. The game tilted further when Kohli chipped a simple catch to long off in the 10th over, giving Nawaz his second wicket of the night.
The twin blow had come at a bad time for India with the duo having settled down well on a tacky wicket. Pakistan went on to stifle India with tight lines and India could not quite break the shackles despite the promotion of the left-handed Ravindra Jadeja, and the ICC No.2 ranked T20I batter, Suryakumar Yadav joining hands.Pandya walked in with India losing Suryakumar to a superb delivery from the impressive Naseem. With 59 needed off 34 balls, Pandya turned the momentum around in brilliant fashion.
He crunched a four off Naseem later in the over, but then played through two good overs to move to 14 off 10 balls. Jadeja, meanwhile, helped India back with a four and a six off the 18th over bowled by Naseem.
Pandya then turned it around India’s way with three fours in the penultimate over to leave India with just seven to win off the final over. Nawaz pushed the game till the end, sending back Jadeja off the first ball of the final over, but Pandya sealed the game with a six off the fourth ball of the over to seal a win for India.
The crucial win gave India vital points in the Asia Cup, with the tournament acting a prelude to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup less than two months later in Australia.