The most anticipated India Pakistan match of the Asia Cup 2018 turned out to be a one-sided affair as an inexperienced Pakistan team caved under pressure and were dismissed for a paltry 162.
In reply, the Indian openers made lightwork of the chase; Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan saw the team off to an electric start, after which Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik carried the team past the finish line. India walked away with honours for match one of possibly three winning by eight wickets with 21 overs to spare.
Sarfraz Ahmed called correctly at the coin toss and therefore Pakistan had the option to choose what they wanted to do first. Pakistan opted to bat first – but they may have repented that decision about three hours later when they were bowled out in 43.1 overs.
It wasn’t that the conditions were challenging or there was assistance for the bowlers. Instead, the conditions at the Dubai Cricket Stadium were fantastic for batting, but the Pakistan players couldn’t cope with the pressure of this marquee contest, made poor decisions and paid the price.
The slip started very early in the innings and right at the top when both the openers couldn’t see off a testing new ball spell and attempted to break the shackles, only to gift their wicket away cheaply. Credit to the Indian new ball pair – Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah – who realised very quickly that there was little assistance from the pitch, and hence resorted to bowling either wicket to wicket, or hit the deck hard as a variation. Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah operated as the perfect pair and gave little away at either end; while Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceded the odd runs, Bumrah was stingy – beginning with two maiden overs.
The unrelenting pressure resulted in Imam-ul-Haq attempting to hit out, only managing to top-edge the ball which was pouched by MS Dhoni. Bhuvneshwar had his second when Fakhar Zaman – in search of his first run – miscued a pull to be caught at mid wicket.
On most other days, the Indian captain would have felt immense pressure of one of his bowlers being unavailable. Not on Wednesday in Dubai; thankfully for Team India and for captain Rohit Sharma, they discovered a new wrecker-in-chief in Kedar Jadhav, who bowled nine tidy overs and returned career-best figures in one-day cricket. Jadhav single-handedly dismantled the Pakistan middle-order – picking up the wickets of Sarfraz Ahmed, Asif Ali and Shadab Khan.
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma powered India off to a fiery start, adding 58 runs in the first ten overs. They extended their association to 86 when Rohit Sharma was castled by Shadab Khan’s well-deceived googly. The Indian captain had caused plenty of damage by then – helping himself to what would be his fastest half-century in ODIs; the 31-year old needed only 36 balls to reach fifty.
Shikhar Dhawan followed up his hundred against Hong Kong on Tuesday with a fluent 46 before he cut one crisply, but hit the ball straight to the man stationed at point; the left-hander hit six boundaries and a six in his 54-ball outing. Rayudu and Karthik added 60 runs for the third wicket; both batsmen remained unbeaten on 31.