Asia Cup 2022: The perfect revenge at the Ring of Fire

Pakistan overcame the odds to defeat old foes India in last-over thriller


Rituraj Borkakoty

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Pakistan's Mohammad Nawaz (left) plays a shot during the Super Four match against India at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. — M. Sajjad
Pakistan's Mohammad Nawaz (left) plays a shot during the Super Four match against India at Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. — M. Sajjad

Published: Mon 5 Sep 2022, 12:07 AM

Last updated: Mon 5 Sep 2022, 12:09 AM

A stiff target, a disciplined Indian attack at the start, Babar Azam’s third failure on the trot and some spine-tingling death overs drama.

Pakistan overcame them all to beat India by five wickets at the DP World T20 Asia Cup Super Four clash at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

After a Virat Kohli-inspired India set a big target of 182, Mohammad Rizwan (71, 51 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes) played the innings of his life to set the platform for Pakistan’s victory.

But the wicketkeeper-batsman, who had earlier survived an injury scare while keeping, could not have revived Pakistan alone after the team lost Babar (14) and Fakhar Zaman (15) before the ninth over, with just 63 runs on the board.

And it was all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz (42, 20 balls, 6 fours, 2 sixes) who turned the game on its head with an astonishing counter-attack.

Promoted to number four by the think-tank in a bold move, Nawaz repaid the faith in style.

The left-hander played havoc with the line and length of the Indian bowlers, proving to one and all that what his bat had been doing for the Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), it could do the same in the biggest game at the international level.

India saw an opening when Nawaz fell to Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/40) while going for another six and Hardik Pandya ended Rizwan’s masterful knock in the 17th over, with Pakistan still needing 35 runs off 19 balls.

But Arshdeep Singh (1/27) dropped the easiest of catches at short third-man when Asif Ali had yet to open his account with Ravi Bishnoi (1/26) being the unfortunate bowler.

Ali (16, 8 balls, 2 fours, 1 six) made India pay the penalty with some big hits as his 33-run partnership with Khushdil Shah (14 not out) took Pakistan closer to the target, with just seven needed off the last six balls.

But Singh bowled a brilliant last over and had Ali plumb in front of the wicket in the fourth ball with Pakistan needing two off the last two balls.

Number seven Iftikhar Ahmed, though, walked in and kept his cool amid the chaos before hitting Singh straight over his head for a boundary to complete a memorable victory and avenge the team’s heartbreaking defeat to the arch-rivals in the opening match of the tournament on the same ground.

Kohli hits 60

Earlier, inspired by a whirlwind start from the openers and a superbly-paced half-century from Kohli (60, 44 balls, 4 fours, 1 six), India had posted a challenging total of 181 for seven.

A full-house greeted the two teams at the Ring of Fire as Pakistan captain Babar won the toss and asked Rohit Sharma to have a first go with the bat.

Rohit (28, 16 balls, 3 fours and 2 sixes) responded in style, pulling and lofting as India took 11 runs off Naseem Shah’s first over to show the team’s intent.

The Indian skipper and his partner KL Rahul (28, 20 balls, 1 four, 2 sixes) shared 54 runs for the first wicket in just 5.1 overs.

But both openers fell while trying to maintain the tempo, with Haris Rauf inducing a top edge from the Indian captain that fell in the hands of Khusdil Shah.

Rahul followed the Indian skipper back to the pavilion in the next over when he found Nawaz in the long on boundary with his lofted shot against Shadab Khan.

Suryakumar Yadav (13) failed to replicate his brilliance that decimated Hong Kong, but Kohli kept his calm and with a combination timing, power and fantastic running between the wickets, the former captain completed his half-century.

India could have ended with a bigger total, but Rauf bowled a brilliant last over with hostile pace at yorker length, the first three balls of which were dots to Kohli.

Kohli was run out as his desperate attempt to take a second run in the fourth ball ended with Asif Ali’s brilliant direct throw from the deep.

But Bishnoi hit the final two balls for fours, thanks to some sloppy fielding from Zaman as India finished with a competitive total.

For Pakistan, Shadab (4-0-31-2) and Nawaz (4-0-25-1), the two spinners, played a big part in keeping the team in the game before their middle-order batsmen guided them home.

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