Pakistan claimed their first World Cup win in either format over India this past Sunday with a crushing 10-wicket victory in Dubai. These were three of the biggest talking points …
Afridi’s new-ball magic
Shaheen Shah Afridi justified his captain’s decision to field first with a lethal spell of fast bowling that pushed India on the back foot from the start.
Afridi’s inswinging yorker trapped India opener Rohit Sharma lbw for nought with the fourth ball of the innings.
He struck again in his second over to send KL Rahul trudging back to the pavilion and return figures of 2-19 in his first three overs to set the tone for Pakistan’s dominance.
The left-arm quick went for 12 runs in his final over but got captain Virat Kohli’s key scalp to restrict India to 151-7, while he finished with figures of 3-31.
Kohli later admitted that Afridi’s new-ball heroics put their batters “under pressure” and they had no answers.
“He put our batsmen under pressure immediately with the new ball and ran in with intensity,” said Kohli.
The Babar effect
Babar Azam played a captain’s knock of 68 in a clinical show by Pakistan, who had never won a World Cup match against India in 12 previous attempts (five in T20 and seven in 50-over tournaments).
Babar, the world’s No 2-ranked T20I batsman behind Dawid Malan of England, took on the India bowlers with an attacking mindset, along with opening partner Mohammad Rizwan, who hit 79.
The skipper showed no signs of backing down as he played his shots with gusto, hitting six fours and two sixes in his 52-ball knock.
He reached his fifty with a huge six off spinner Varun Chakravarthy to make India’s vaunted bowling attack look ordinary as they chased down their target with 13 balls to spare.
However, Babar warned his players of complacency after breaking their India jinx with four more games to come in the round-robin Super 12 second stage against New Zealand, Afghanistan and Scotland.
“It won’t get easier just because we beat India,” he said. “We will take the confidence, but we’re taking it one match at a time, and there’s a long way to go in the tournament.”
India’s bowling blank
It’s not often that an India bowling lineup including Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar return wicketless.
Kumar bowled the first over and went for 10 runs with Rizwan hitting him for a four and six to set up the chase.
Babar looked equally punishing when he hit a crispy cover drive off Shami to signal his intent for the innings.
The bowlers just could not hit the right lengths on a pitch that became better to bat on as the match progressed.
Dew remained one of the factors for the bowling blank and Kohli said that the toss will play a crucial role in the upcoming matches of the tournament.
“We could make the argument for getting in another slower bowler, but it’s important to stay composed and understand our strengths, because with the dew the slower bowlers couldn’t be effective either,” he said. “This is just the first game of the tournament, not the last.”
© Agence France-Presse