Winning is a habit and Team India has learned the art in the Asia Cup now being held in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. India is lucky enough to play all its matches in Dubai and need not travel to Abu Dhabi to play matches there. After a hard fought match against Hong Kong, the outing Pakistan was much easier. Pakistan, having the best bowling side in the tournament made first use of the wicket and failed miserably to put up a good total. India, on the other hand, played to a plan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar exploited the condition and later on, spinner Kedar Jhadav did his role for the Indian team. When Team India batted the wicket eased out and Rohit Sharma and Dhawan knocked out the half of the total runs scored by Pakistan in their opening wicket stand. It was left to Rayadu and Karthik to knock off the required runs without being separated. In all, it was a facile win for India against arch-rivals Pakistan.
The atmosphere was electric and the players charged up, but the big battle — despite the result pleasing a majority of spectators in the stands — between India and Pakistan turned out to be a lop-sided affair, just like their last meeting in the Champions Trophy final in 2017. While Pakistan had dominated proceedings that evening at The Oval, it was India’s turn to avenge the loss, that too in style, with an eight-wicket win in just 29 overs. After the pace duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, along with ‘Mr. Utility’ Kedar Jadhav, had bundled Pakistan out for 162 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, the writing was clear on the wall.
Once skipper Rohit Sharma, with some sublime strokeplay, got India off the blocks quickly, it was clear that the match would be over sooner than the scheduled close. Despite losing Rohit to a Shadab Khan googly, soon after his 50, and his deputy Shikhar Dhawan on the cusp of one, Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik helped India cross the line. Bhuvneshwar and Jadhav’s performances augur well for the team, considering the two are on a comeback trail after suffering major injuries in the recent past.
At three for two in the fifth over, Babar Azam and veteran Shoaib Malik got into rebuilding mode. The latter was assisted by some shoddy work in the field, with M.S. Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar giving him a reprieve. Once chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav broke the partnership in the 22nd over by castling Babar, Jadhav took over. The diminutive player mixed his round-arm and slinging off-spinners to bamboozle the batsmen.
There was a moment of fielding brilliance when Manish Pandey (substituting for the injured Hardik), fielding in the outfield, scooped the ball on the run, threw the ball back as he crossed the boundary line and came back in to complete the catch to dismiss Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed. Soon, Rayudu’s direct hit left Malik short of the crease and at 100 for five, the game was all but over. Jadhav then dismissed Asif Ali and Shadab before Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah wiped the tail off to ensure India didn’t have a big total to chase. It was indeed an emphatic win for Team India.
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