All the pre-match talk of a competitive match, dominated by batting fireworks proved wrong. Pakistan batting first had itself to blame for a poor batting display. After cruising at 85 for 2 in the 22nd over, they collapsed to 162 all out in 43.1 overs and simply left with no hope of defending a total that was at least hundred runs below par. The 82-run 3rd wicket stand between Babar Azam (47) and Shoaib Malik (43), after Man of the Match Bhuvneshwar Kumar had sent back openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman for a duck, was the only phase of the innings when Pakistan looked to be competing. A number of soft dismissals led one to conclusion that Pakistan mind-set in Dubai, was more align with T20 format. The run out of Shoaib Malik, who surprisingly did not seem that bothered to save himself, proved a turning point, as five batsmen were back in the pavilion with only 100 runs on the board.
In reply, captain Rohit Sharma, showed real urgency whilst taking the Pakistan bowling apart with 52 off39 balls with 6 fours and 3 sixes. His opening partner, a dynamic ODI player, Shikhar Dawan, was not going to miss out either and contributed with 46 off 54 balls. With the openers having set the tone with a dominating stand, Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Kathik, with 31 a piece, mange to control the match by playing in the same vein. The target was reached in 29 overs for the loss of just two wickets and Pakistan left with plenty to ponder before its next match in the Super Four stages.
In the present Asia Cup, Pakistan had an easy 8-wicket win in its first match against Hong Kong on Sunday but on the other hand India could only scrape through a 26-run win against the same opponent. It is the Pakistan bowlers, one felt especially with Virat Kohli absent, were likely to decide the outcome of this group match. Although the two teams will meet again in the Super Four stages and possibly in the final, it did not stop for the group match to be a sell-out. Sarfraz Ahmed and his young exciting all-rounders had the 2017 Champions Trophy final victory against India, to motivate and inspire them for further glory.
Sadly political rifts between the two neighbours have denied the two teams to play 5-day Test matches, in the last decade, leaving ICC white-ball tournaments, the only opportunity to come face-to-face. Despite the willingness of both BCCI and PCB and the potential of massive financial gains for both cricket Boards, the bilateral tours have been put on hold, for a wide scale disappointment of fans of both countries.
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