Pakistan 237 - 7 (Shoaib Malik 78, Sarfraz Ahmed 44; Kuldeep Yadav 2-42, Jasprit Bumrah 2-29, Yuzvendra Chahal 2-46)
India 238-1 (Rohit Sharma 111*, Shikhar Dhawan 114)
Result India won by 9 wickets
In pursuit of their target of 238, the experienced Indian openers, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, set about in the most assertive manner and missed no opportunity to hit boundaries and stay above the asking rate. The pair faced absolutely no threat from a toothless Pakistan bowling and in no time it was one-way traffic. Without undue risk the pair, raced to 150 mark in the 26th over with the opposition, literally on their knees.
Left-handed, Dhawan’s hundred was reached in 95 balls with a scorching drive through extra cover off Shaheen Afridi and was run out in the following over for a superbly executed 114 off 100 balls with 16 fours and 2 sixes, illustrating his complete domination of bowling. The match-winning stand worth 210 runs in 33.3 overs was India’s new record against Pakistan by an opening pair. As a stand-in captain, Rohit too played a classy ODI knock, reaching three figures off 106 balls. His unbeaten 111 included 7 fours and 4 sixes as he treated all the bowlers with utter contempt as India galloped to its target in 39.3 overs, 63 balls to spare.
Pakistan, oddly enough, have not looked at their best in the Asia Cup, inviting harsh criticism from media over captaincy, team combination and quality of bowling, in the conditions, that since 2009 have been the venue for their home fixtures. A humiliating defeat, which leaves them with a game against Bangladesh to restore their pride and face India once again, in the final.
Pakistan camp determined, though unsure of its best combination, approached the Super 4 game against India at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, to avenge their group stage defeat, four days ago. In between Pakistan have regained some of its composure by overcoming the threat of Afghanistan but could not be seen as the favourites to win.
Opting to bat was the right way to go about it as Fakhar Zaman, after a lean time in the Asia Cup thus far, stepped out to take on India bowlers, and managed to reach 31 off 44 balls, before his ungainly dismissal. Captain Sarfraz Ahmed, also short of runs, promoted himself to No.4. His impatience and ill judgement brought the down fall of a Babar Azam and Pakistan slipping to 58-3 with a real effort to come out of it. Sarfraz and Shoaib Malik, both with soft hands and quick running brought Pakistan back into contention with a 107-run stand in 23 overs. After a big over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, worth 22 runs with two sixes from Asif Ali, the total was set to go beyond 260 buy Shoaib’s dismissal in the 44th over for a timely and responsible 78 off 90 balls was a blow and exposed the lower half of Pakistan batting to a very accurate spell of fast bowling from Jasprit Bumrah. His wicket-to-wicket, fuller length pegged back Pakistan who could only add 26 runs in the last 5 overs. Bumrah’s final figures of 2-29 off 10 overs in the UAE 40 degrees heat, was a superb effort and seized the initiative for his side.
The hype created by both traditional and social media for the India-Pakistan cricket match is justified and adds a bit more spice to the bitter rivalry that kicked off with a 5-Test series in India in 1952-53 winter. The 21-year period of 1978-99 stands out for high frequency of exchanges all around the world, including off-shores such as UAE, Singapore and Canada. Besides touring each other fairly regularly, the positive vibes and mutual co-operation of respective cricket Boards, was manifested in the successful co-hosting of two global tournaments: 1987 Reliance World Cup and the 1996 Wills World Cup.
Sadly, the present political relations stemming border skirmishes and threat posed by global terrorism, have kept the experience of this very special sporting rivalry, to a bare minimum. Instead of the Asian sub-continental camaraderie which features India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan as five Test nations, being taken to another level and creating more mutual respect and friendship between players, media and fanatic supporters, it presently sits at an all-time low. An alarming scenario being, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) riding high for its successful branding of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and financial clout and influence it enjoys in International Cricket Council (ICC), seems to have overlooked the significance of regional co-operation which had led to an uncertain future.
India - Rohit Sharma(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(wk), Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah
Pakistan - Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Afridi
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