For the second time in a week, an India-Pakistan match went down the wire. For the second time in Asia Cup 2022, the result of an India-Pakistan match came in the final over.
But this time, critical knocks from Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Nawaz, with Asif Ali chipping in, helped Pakistan finish on the winning side, beating India by five wickets in the second Super Four stage match at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.
After Virat Kohli slammed his second consecutive fifty in as many matches for India to post a competitive 181/7, Rizwan also got his half-century in as many games with a 51-ball 71. But the game turner was left-handed Nawaz’s promotion to four, striking 42 off 20 balls, including six fours and two sixes.
With 26 runs needed from the last two overs, Khushdil Shah and Asif Ali took 19 runs off Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 19th over. Arshdeep Singh, who dropped Ali for a duck an over earlier, got the equation to two runs off two balls. But Iftikhar Ahmed sealed the match in Pakistan’s favour with a ball to spare.
Babar Azam and Rizwan began by striking three fours in the first three overs. Leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi, playing his first game in Asia Cup, struck in his first over as Azam chipped straight to mid-wicket.
Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman didn’t let the tempo down by taking three fours off Hardik Pandya’s first over going for 14 runs. Rizwan then whipped Arshdeep superbly off his wrists over backward square leg as Pakistan ended the power-play at 44/1.
Post power-play, India kept things tight by not allowing Zaman to get boundaries with a change in pace and length. They were rewarded when an under-pressure Zaman holed out straight to long-on off a slower ball from Yuzvendra Chahal.
Nawaz, promoted to four, began by cutting Chahal past short third man for four. He then clobbered Pandya over long-on for a much-needed six. While Rizwan slog-swept Chahal for six over mid-wicket, Nawaz also nailed the same shot off Bishnoi.
Rizwan, who was once at 13 off 14, got his fifty in 37 balls while Nawaz hammered Arshdeep down the ground and slammed fours off Pandya through cover and’over the keeper’s head to keep Pakistan in the match.
With 63 needed off the last six overs, Nawaz capitalised on Chahal’s loose deliveries by placing fours through leg-side, before Rizwan cut through backward point to pick the third four in a 16-run 15th over.
Bhuvneshwar broke the 73-run stand off 41 balls in the 16th over by making the dangerous Nawaz give a comfortable catch to long-off on an off-cutter. Pandya’s strategy to bowl outside off worked when Rizwan lofted a slower ball straight to long-off.
Ali survived a tight caught behind call off Bishnoi in the 18th over. He got a reprieve on the very next ball as Arshdeep dropped a sitter at short third man. With the equation at 26 off 12 balls, Ali went deep in the crease and hit Bhuvneshwar over long-on for six.
Shah then got a top-edge on the pull for four while Ali placed his loft between the fielders between long-off and extra cover as 19 runs came off the over. With India penalised for slow over rate by having an extra fielder in the 30-yard circle, Ali slammed Arshdeep for four down the ground.
The left-arm pacer bounced back by trapping Ali lbw with a pin-point yorker on the middle stump. Ahmed got the brace of runs by slamming down the ground to complete a terrific chase for Pakistan.
Brief scores: India 181/7 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 60, Rohit Sharma 28; Shadab Khan 2/31, Mohammad Nawaz 1/25) lost to Pakistan 182/5 in 19.5 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 71, Mohammad Nawaz 42; Ravi Bishnoi 1/26, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1/40) by five wickets.