Cricket World #INDOPAK Cup: Pakistan edge out India in Karachi, will teams make any changes for Kolkata clash?
The India-Pakistan matches in the real world may be turning into one-sided affairs of late, but the opening fixture of the Cricket World #INDOPAK Cup was a closely contested encounter.
Result - Pakistan won by 5 runs
Pakistan won the toss and surprised a few by choosing to bat first. Their openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman were right on the money as both struck boundaries at will.
Jasprit Bumrah, as always, was the first to strike for India as Imam nicked off to MS Dhoni behind the wickets. Babar Azam then made a quick start, stroking two boundaries off his first three deliveries, but couldn't last long.
Veteran Shoaib Malik did a great job with a 22-ball 64 including 6 sixes to entertain the spectators. He got great company in former captain Sarfaraz Ahmad who remained unbeaten on 53 off 19 deliveries to take Pakistan to a daunting 169 off just 10 overs.
Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav picked up two wickets each for India.
Chasing a mammoth score of 170, Rohit Sharma could not get the team off to the characteristic start but Shikhar Dhawan more than made up for it with 32 off just 9 balls. After KL Rahul was dismissed early as well, Virat Kohli, the master of the chanse that he is, almost did it for India.
Had he not been dismissed by Wahab Riaz for a 20-ball 62, he might have taken India home. But, his dismissal at a crunch time cost India the match.
Despite a valiant effort from Shreyas Iyer who scored a 21-ball 51, Pakistan on the back of two wickets from Wahab Riaz, won the match by five wickets.
The well-fought fixture at the National Stadium in Karachi came like a breath of fresh air after so many days of drought as far as international cricket is concerned. The joy was clearly visible on the faces of the fans in the stands in Karachi, in our virtual world, especially after the home team was successful in pipping India to the post.
The caravan now moves to the Eden Gardens in Kolkata where Pakistan will try their best to win the series. For India, the chances of a series victory have now gone, but they would do well to draw level.
The old surface in Eden Gardens was a heaven for spinners but ever since the Cricket Association of Bengal relaid the square, it offers more bounce and provides for a better contest between the bat and the ball.
There is a lot in it for the pace bowlers if they are willing to bend their back. Likewise, for batsmen ready to take on the challenge and apply themselves, runs are on offer.
In the seven T20 International matches that Kolkata has hosted, the team batting first has won just two times as opposed to the team bowling first. This gives a clear indication of what the winning captain will do at the toss.
While the highest total recorded at the venue was by Pakistan against Bangladesh of 201, the ground has not been a too high scoring one in T20 Internationals, with the team batting first averaging 143 while the side batting second averaging 126. So, unlike the opening fixture, a better balance between bat and ball can be expected in this game.
Both sides are not likely to make too many changes in their playing XI. But, Pakistan can consider bringing in Asif Ali for Iftikhar Ahmed, who was dismissed for a golden duck as he failed to read Kuldeep Yadav off the hand.
All the Indian bowlers proved expensive but Mohammed Shami particularly looked out of sorts as he conceded 35 runs of his two overs without picking up a wicket. India can go for Bhuvneshwar Kumar in Shami's place in Kolkata, where the new surface will be conducive to his style of bowling.
Do tune in for the thriller on 4th June as live action begins here from 11:00 a.m. GMT onwards.
Here are the likely XIs for the 2nd Cricket World #INDOPAK Cup match:
Pakistan - Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam (C), Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Sarfaraz Ahmed (WK), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir
India - Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni (WK), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
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