Pakistani openers Babar and Hafeez chase down 152, to claim a thumping 10 wicket Super 12s victory and their first over India in 13 attempts! Afridi stars with the ball!
Pakistan 152 for 0 (Rizwan 79*, Babar 68*) beat India 151 for 7 (Kohli 57, Afridi 3-31) by ten wickets
In their 13th attempt at World Cups, Pakistan finally managed to beat India and did so easily on a night when almost everything went to plan for them. With the sensational removal of the openers with the new ball, Shaheen Shah Afridi was the brightest star of the night, but everyone in the supporting cast played their roles well, including a cool and calculated chase by openers Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam.
Afridi took the new ball, and with the fourth ball of the innings, he removed Rohit Sharma for a duck. The delivery was a late inswinger from Afridi’s high release point, that Rohit completely missed and was trapped lbw. In his second over, that beautiful late flick in release was on show again as Afridi dismissed KL Rahul. The ball wasn’t even that full, and to extract such late swing, go past a defensive bat, and hit the top of middle was incredibly skillful. India 6 for 2 in 2.1 overs.
India resisted the temptation to try to interfere with Pakistan’s rhythm and promote a left-hander. They stayed with Suryakumar Yadav at No. 4. Imad Wasim got away with two overs for 10, and India’s need to increase the scoring got so desperate that even Kohli took an early risk to back away and hit Afridi for a six in the fifth over. Hasan Ali, though, provided the final strike to win Pakistan the powerplay: the wicket of Suryakumar with movement off the pitch from a short-of-a-length delivery.
At 36 for 3 in the powerplay, there was no way India were going to copy the West Indies and keep playing aggressively. Kohli was going to stick around and see if he could hurt Pakistan at the death. Rishabh Pant got in and the responsibility to play the big shots was on him. Pakistan, though, used this uncertain period for India to get through Mohammad Hafeez’s two overs.
Haris Rauf announced himself with an over of high pace in the 11th over, and it was clear the task of bowling the death overs was his to do. In the 12th over, Pant hit Hasan for two one-handed sixes to threaten Pakistan. Shadab Khan, though, came back to get rid of the India wicketkeeper with a googly, to make it 84 for 4 in the 13th over.
Then India made their first change and promoted Ravindra Jadeja ahead of Hardik Pandya. The idea perhaps was to keep the right-left combination going and also keep Pandya’s power for the last 5 overs. Jadeja, though, did not attack. He was 9 off 11 when he hit his first boundary. When he tried to hit his second, he only provided a catch from a Hasan slower ball. However, the real danger for Pakistan was this phase of play.
Kohli had survived into the death overs, where only AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, and Andre Russell have a better strike rate than him in all T20 cricket. He also had Pandya, who can be lethal. India were on their way to 140-150, which was the bare minimum. Now they had a chance to go for something bigger. Bowling the 17th over was Rauf, who was not previously known for bowling too many slower balls. However, he seems to have added them to his repertoire. Here he bowled four in a row to concede just four runs in the 17th over. Afridi then got rid of Kohli with a slower short ball in the 19th. Rauf conceded just seven in the last over.
While India only achieved a par total, they still asked Pakistan to achieve their second-highest successful chase in the UAE if they were to win this game. After a 10-run first over, India gradually hauled Pakistan back with Varun Chakravarthy conceding just two runs in the fourth over. Overs six to eight yielded no boundaries, and Pakistan were scoring at barely a run-a-ball. They were still the favourites, but it looked as though they were possibly leaving themselves too much to do on this slow pitch.
In the ninth over, Jadeja made his first error with a ball that was slightly too short. Babar, 21 off 25 at this point, rocked back to hit him for a six over the leg side. In the next over, he scored a four off Varun. It was in the 13th over, though, that the real fireworks were provided.
Varun, bowling for the first time with the shorter boundary on the leg side, dropped short twice, and both batters smashed him over square leg for huge sixes. And once they picked up two fours off Jadeja, Pakistan had brought the equation down to 40 off 36. Both the openers went on to score unbeaten half-centuries and seal what was Pakistan’s first 10-wicket win in T20 internationals and India’s first loss by such a huge margin!