Recent Match Report – India vs Pakistan 16th Match, Group 2 2021/22

Pakistan 152 for 0 (Rizwan 79*, Babar 68*) beat India 151 for 7 (Kohli 57, Afridi 3-31) by ten wickets

In their 13th attempt in World Cups, Pakistan finally managed to beat India, and did so comfortably on a night when almost everything went to plan for them. With the sensational uprooting of the openers with the new ball, Shaheen Shah Afridi was the brightest star of the night, but everyone in the support cast played their role well, including a nerveless chase by the openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

The first half of the match was as if Pakistan were playing on the white board. Afridi, you get me early wickets. Imad Wasim, you bowl cheap powerplay overs against their right-hand top order. Hasan Ali, we need one impactful over in the first 10 from you. Mohammad Hafeez, you can finish Imad’s overs if we get left-hand batter Rishabh Pant in. Shadab Khan, you control the middle overs. Haris Rauf, at the end of the innings, pace is pace yaar. And change of pace is change of pace yaar.

Afridi announces himself

Afridi began the match tied with Mohammad Amir for the most wickets in the first two overs of T20 games since the start of 2018. He took the new ball here, and with the fourth ball of the innings he took the sole lead on that stat. It was not just a full inswinger, but it was a late inswinger, and from Afridi’s high release. Rohit Sharma missed comprehensively to be trapped lbw.

In his second over, that beautiful late flick in release was on display again as Afridi got KL Rahul. This wasn’t even that full, and to get such late swing – almost seam – to go past a defensive bat and hit the top of middle was high skill. India 6 for 2 in 2.1 overs.

Hasan seals the powerplay

India didn’t try to break Pakistan’s rhythm against right-hand batters and stayed with Suryakumar Yadav at No. 4. Imad got away with two overs for 10, and India’s need to get a move on got so bad even Kohli took an early risk to back away and hit Afridi for a six in the fifth over. Hasan, though, provided the final blow to win Pakistan the powerplay: the wicket of Suryakumar with nip off the pitch on a short-of-a-length delivery.

Middle-overs tussle

At 36 for 3 in the powerplay, there was no way India were going to go six-hunting West Indies style. Kohli was going to drop anchor and see if he could hurt Pakistan at the death, a phase of play where he is historically among the best. Rishabh Pant got in and the onus for disruption was on him. Pakistan, though, used this uncertain period for India to get through Hafeez’s two overs.

Rauf announced himself with an over of high pace in the 11th over, and it was clear the job in the death overs was his to do. In the 12th over, Pant hit Hasan for two one-handed sixes to threaten Pakistan. Shadab, though, came back to get rid of Pant with a wrong ‘un and make it 84 for 4 in the 13th over.

Rauf shuts India down

This was when India made their first change, promoting Ravindra Jadeja ahead of Hardik Pandya. The idea perhaps was to keep right-left going and also retain Pandya’s power for the death overs. Jadeja, though, did not attack. He was 9 off 11 when he tried to hit his first boundary. When he tried to hit his second, he holed out to a Hasan slower ball.

However, the real danger for Pakistan was now. Kohli had survived into the death overs, where only AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and Andre Russell have a better strike rate than him in all T20 cricket. He also had Pandya, who can be lethal. India were on their way to 140-150, which was the bare minimum. Now they stood a chance to go for bonus runs.

Bowling the 17th over was Rauf, who is not known for bowling too many slower balls. In the last PSL, though, he added it to his repertoire, bowling 23 of them for 19 runs and two wickets. Here he bowled four of those in a row to concede just four runs in the 17th over. Afridi then got rid of Kohli with a slower bouncer in the 19th. Rauf conceded just seven in the last over.

Slow start to the chase

While India didn’t get any bonus above their bare minimum, they still had asked Pakistan to mount their second-highest successful chase in the UAE if they were to win this game. After the 10-run first over, India gradually pulled Pakistan back with Varun Chakravarthy conceding just two runs in the fourth over. Overs six to eight yielded no boundaries, and Pakistan were going at barely a run a ball. They were still the favourites – 60% according to ESPNcricinfo’s Win Predictor – but you wondered if they were leaving themselves too much to do on a slow pitch.

Babar turns the tide

In the ninth over, Jadeja made his first mistake with a ball a touch too short. Babar, 21 off 25 at this point, rocked back to hit him for a six. In the next over, he found a four off Varun.

And this was around the time the dew began to become significant. Babar went after Jasprit Bumrah’s first over back. It was in the 13th over, though, that the exclamation mark was provided. Varun, bowling for the first time with the shorter boundary on the leg side, dropped short twice, and both openers dropped him over square leg for a six each. And once they got two fours off Jadeja, Pakistan had brought it down to 40 off 36.

Both the openers went on to notch up half-centuries and sealed what was Pakistan’s first 10-wicket win in T20 internationals and India’s first defeat by such a margin.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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