Asia Cup T20 2016: India weather Amir storm to outsmart Pakistan
In a spectacle worthy of the famed rivalry, India thwarted Pakistan’s chances to emerge victorious at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Mirpur.
Virat Kohli‘s calm demeanour turned out be the major difference in countering the Pakistani pacers who came out all guns blazing on a spicy pitch.
Earlier, Shahid Afridi’s men were given a rude welcome to Bangladesh as the Indian bowlers routed them for 83. The ineptness in the Pakistani lineup was exposed as the Indians took advantage of the better bowling conditions.
MS Dhoni opted to bowl first and was rewarded instantly as Ashish Nehra removed Mohammad Hafeez in the very first over by making excellent use of the left-armer’s angle. Khurram Manzoor, a surprise entrant at 3, was given a stern examination as Jasprit Bumrah tested his technique ruthlessly.
On the other end, Sharjeel Khan was also enduring some jittery moments.
Bumrah struck in his second over with a slower off-cutter which gripped and bounced on the pitch. Sharjeel who was into the shot early could only slash the ball to Rahane at slip.
There was a huge controversy to follow as Manzoor nicked one off Nehra while unsuccessfully trying the ramp shot.
Bangladeshi umpire Sharfuddoula Saikat had other ideas and turned down a vociferous appeal leaving the Indians seething in disbelief. But, the decision did not turn out to be costly as Manzoor was 'sold a dummy' by Shoaib Malik.
What followed thereafter was a terrible exhibition of batting from the Pakistani middle-order. Dhoni who is known to be quite unpredictable in the field decided to bring in Yuvraj Singh ahead of his regular spinners.
Yuvraj scalped the prized wicket of Umar Akmal on his first ball to leave Pakistan reeling at 35-5.
Clearly stunned by the events which unfolded before his entry, skipper Afridi did not look up to the task. He was caught short of his crease after Ravindra Jadeja sent a powerful throw from the deep.
Sarfaraz Ahmed tried to resurrect his team from the grave by rotating the strike earnestly. Meanwhile, Wahab Riaz was trapped in front by a slider from Jadeja to add on to the agony.
After a cameo, Sarfaraz was castled by Jadeja in arguably the decisive moment of the contest. Despite a poor over from Ravichandran Ashwin, Pakistan were put out of their misery when Pandya finished off the tail.
Mohammad Amir enlivened the atmosphere with a fiery spell of pace and swing. He jolted the Indian top-order who could not cope with the extravagant movement on offer and the chase looked to be unraveling rapidly at 8/3.
But, Kohli saw off Amir’s spell and capitalized on the lack of depth in the Pakistani bowling unit. He was supported admirably by Yuvraj as they put together a match-winning partnership to dent Pakistan’s hopes.
Possessing a sound technique, the Delhi dasher showed his big match prowess by mixing caution with aggression. Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Irfan could not back up Amir’s heroics and they released the pressure by bowling too short.
Even though Mohammad Sami picked up 2 wickets, it was a little too late to impact the result. Kohli was adjudged wrongly by umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge and could not reach his fifty.
But, he had done enough to swing the match in India’s favor.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 83 all out – 17.3 overs (Sarfaraz Ahmed 25, Hardik Pandya 3-8, Ravindra Jadeja 2-11); India 85/5 – 15.3 overs (Virat Kohli 49, Yuvraj Singh 14*, Mohammad Amir 3-18)
India won by 5 wickets