T20 World Cup: India edge Pakistan in low-scoring thriller | Crickit
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T20 World Cup: India edge Pakistan in low-scoring thriller

Jun 10, 2024 05:14 AM IST

India bowlers defend 119, pulling off a six-run win in the key Group A clash in New York

Sunday morning at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Long Island, New York began frustratingly for everyone present, anxiously watching the dark clouds play hide and seek and waiting for the action between India and Pakistan to unfold.

India's Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan's captain Babar Azam during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan(AP)
India's Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan's captain Babar Azam during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan(AP)

Once the long pause gave way to a contest between bat and ball, there was enough intrigue on a slow and tricky surface to keep everyone hooked even though the result was familiarly in favour of India. Rishabh Pant top-scored with 42 off 31 balls as India were bowled out for 119 in 19 overs. In response, Pakistan could only manage 113/7 in 20 overs, suffering a six-run loss that puts their future in this T20 World Cup in jeopardy. Jasprit Bumrah was the pick of the Indian bowlers with figures of 4-0-14-3. This is the joint lowest total defended in T20 World Cup history.

At the start of the day, the inclement weather caused a delay of 50 minutes to this much-anticipated clash before openers Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli strode to the middle to face Shaheen Afridi with the new ball. Just one over into the innings, during which Rohit played an eye-catching pick-up shot over deep square leg for six, a spitting drizzle again returned, forcing the players to head back to their dressing rooms for another break.

When the rain finally stopped for a 12pm (local time) resumption, welcomed with a thunderous roar at a stadium filled with a sea of blue and pockets of green, India’s batters could finally get down to the task of facing a buoyant Pakistan attack. The conditions were ideal for bowling, as they indeed were in the earlier games at the venue thanks to pitches with variable bounce and excessive seam movement.

The interruption didn’t seem to help Rohit and Kohli, both departing within the first three overs while trying to find the boundary. Kohli was caught by Usman Khan at cover point off Shah. Rohit was trying to replicate his earlier shot for six against Afridi but succeeded in only picking out Rauf at deep square leg.

At 19/2, it was Axar Patel rather than Suryakumar Yadav who came in. Perhaps the rationale was to protect Suryakumar, who has been susceptible versus Mitchell Starc in the past, against Pakistan’s left-armers in the first six overs. Axar and Rishabh Pant got the innings moving, stitching together a 39-run partnership for the third wicket off 30 balls. Axar played and missed quite a bit, but there was also a ramp over slip for six when Afridi pitched the ball short. When Pakistan tried to squeeze in a quiet over

with Iftikhar Ahmed, Axar showed his nimble footwork and hit the part-time spinner for a four down the ground. Dancing down the track didn’t work against Shah though, swishing at a good-length delivery only to see the stumps pegged back.

Pant, meanwhile, was typically frenetic early on, moving all around the crease and trying to create different angles to find vacant spaces on the outfield. He didn’t connect sweetly in the initial few deliveries, but a 13-run 10th over, bowled by Rauf, helped Pant release the handbrake. A slower ball was dispatched over extra cover for four, followed by a lap to the left of short fine leg for four. Next ball, the fine leg fielder was again beaten with a more conventional flick.

India were 81/3 halfway into their innings, which was the ideal foundation to build on at the back end. Within the next five overs, however, things unravelled spectacularly for India as Pakistan claimed four wickets for just seven runs. While Rauf accounted for Suryakumar Yadav, Shah put an end to Dube’s visible struggle by getting him caught and bowled.

With the ball holding up on the drop-in pitch, Amir then removed Pant and Ravindra Jadeja off successive deliveries in the 15th over. The dismissals of Dube and Jadeja had to do with the batters being a bit early into their shots.

The spate of wickets meant Arshdeep Singh came in at No.9 with more than five overs left. Not surprisingly as a result, India were guilty of not batting their full quota of overs, losing their last seven wickets for 30 runs.

When it was India’s turn to bowl, they had to be spot on with their lengths and mount early pressure on Pakistan. Arshdeep didn’t quite do that, conceding nine in the opening over. Rohit turned to Bumrah in the third over for a breakthrough. The pace spearhead

delivered his skipper’s wish in the fifth, catching Babar Azam in two minds and inducing an edge to Suryakumar at first slip. Mohammed Siraj was also probing in his first spell of 3-0-10-0.

With Axar and Hardik Pandya removing Usman Khan and Fakhar Zaman respectively, the game hung in the balance with six overs left — Pakistan needed another 40 runs with seven wickets in hand. That was when Bumrah delivered another decisive blow, getting the ball to beat Mohammad Rizwan’s cross-batted heave and crash into the stumps.

The challenging surface meant that Pakistan’s late flourish with the bat never arrived. Only 14 runs were conceded in the 17th and 18th overs, leaving Pakistan with 21 to get in the last two overs. That was beyond their reach as Bumrah and Arshdeep closed out the game skilfully.

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