By Jawad Hussain
KARACHI, September 19, 2018 (News925.com) – India outclassed arch-rivals Pakistan by eight wickets in a lopsided encounter of the 2018 Asia Cup at Dubai International Stadium in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday night.
In a highly anticipated Asia Cup clash, Pakistan vehemently failed to impress their fans as their batsmen and bowlers couldn’t put their house in order against the arch-foes.
Pakistani skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and decided to bat first, in a bid to put India under pressure of a big total on the board. However, things didn’t work out as planned. In the blink of an eye, both of Pakistani opening batsmen were back in the hut. Pakistan could never recover from the early jitters and the whole team was folded for a paltry total.
It all began in the third over of the match, when Player of the Match Bhuvneshwar Kumar got rid of Imam-ul-Haq (2 off 7) who tried to up the ante but found an edge straight into the gloves of Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the wicket. Bhuvneshwar struck again in the fifth over when he dismantled the danger man Fakhar Zaman for a duck. Pakistan looked in all sorts of trouble at 2/3 in the 5th over.
Veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik (43 off 67 – 1 four, 1 six) joined hands with stylish Babar Azam (47 off 62 – 6 fours) with the mission to revive the wrecked ship. The two batsmen looked on top of the game and took their team’s total to 85 runs in the 22nd over when Kuldeep Jadhav (9-1-23-3) struck gold with the wicket of in-form Babar Azam. The dismissal brought skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (6 off 12) to the crease. A lot was expected from the skipper but Sarfraz looked in no mood to have a prolonged stay in the center.
Asif Ali (9 off 10 – 1 six) had to enter the field a lot earlier than he would have expected or liked. He couldn’t adjust his game to the situation of the game and wasted his wicket, thus following the footsteps of his captain. Shadab Khan (8 off 19) also followed afterward. Faheem Ashraf (21 off 44 – 2 fours) and Mohammad Amir (18* off 26 – 1 four) did their best to give Pakistan a moderate total to defend. However, the flow of wickets didn’t stop and Pakistan were bowled out for 162 runs in just 43.1 overs.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar finished with figures of 7-1-15-3 whereas Kedar Jadhav (9-1-23-3) and Jasprit Bumrah (7.1-2-23-2) also chipped in with crucial wickets.
A 163-run target was never going to challenge the Indian batting might. They cruised to the target in just 29 overs to lead the Group A. Hong Kong was eliminated after losing both of their matches in the group stage. Indian skipper Rohit Sharma (52 off 39 – 6 fours, 3 sixes) set the tone for the run-chase whereas Shikhar Dhawan (46 off 54 – 6 fours, 1 six) enjoyed his time in the middle. Shadab Khan got rid of Sharma while Faheem Ashraf showed Dhawan the exit gate. However, Ambati Rayudu (31* off 46 – 3 fours) and Dinesh Karthik (31* off 37 – 2 fours, 1 six) looked in no trouble at all and completed the run-chase in style.
Pakistan and India have joined Afghanistan and Bangladesh into the Super Four stage. Bangladesh will meet Afghanistan in the last match of the group stage at Abu Dhabi on Thursday. The Super Four round will begin in Dubai on Friday when India will take on Bangladesh. Pakistan will face off against Afghanistan in their first Super Four match on Saturday. Pakistan and India will meet again in the Super Four stage in Dubai on Monday when Afghanistan will play Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi. Afghanistan will challenge India in Dubai on Wednesday when Pakistan will lock horns with Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi.