ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Super 12, Group 2, India vs Pakistan: Arshdeep Singh's 3-32, Virat Kohli's 82, Hardik Pandya's 40 & 3-30 and Iftikhar Ahmed's 51 are top performances. India beat Pakistan by 4 wickets in Super 12s Group 2 game.
Brief Scores: Pakistan 159-8 (Masood 52*, Iftikhar 51, Arshdeep 3-32) lost to India 160-6 (Kohli 82, Pandya 40, Rauf 2-36) by 4 wickets
Player of the Match: Virat Kohli (82 off 53 deliveries)
High voltage matches bring out nerves of steel and Virat Kohli’s DNA has blood group “steel positive”. Highlights for India were the swing bowling of Arshdeep Singh and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the way Virat Kohli, the chase master along with Hardik Pandya plotted a masterful run chase. For Pakistan, Iftikhar Ahmed and Haris Rauf were the biggest shining spots with clouds of worry looming around Babar Azam and Shaheen Shah Afridi’s form and lack of game time.
MCG Cauldron – A perfect setting for the Big Clash
The father of all clashes in cricketing history at the mother of all the venues – it’s India vs Pakistan at the “G”, the Melbourne Cricket Ground with a seating capacity of over 1 lakh 20 thousand fans was ready to welcome the biggest duel of this Australian summer.
Arshdeep began well with two strikes after India won the toss and opted to field
India’s unbeatable streak against Pakistan in World Cup was broken last year and the record stood at 12-1. The fans cheering, the stadium buzzing and the players going through anxious energy, well, that’s what India vs Pakistan is all about. India captain Rohit Sharma won the toss and had no hesitations on bowling first on this grassy Melbourne wicket. India went ahead with a strategic eleven with no Yuzvendra Chahal as Pakistan had three left-handers in their top 6 and Harshal Patel too was benched. Pakistan had a relatively known eleven with no real surprises.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was ready with the new Kokkabura at the top of his bowling mark, licking his lips with a tinge of grass visible from distance. Arshdeep with his left-arm angle gave Pakistan a taste of their own medicine, as he bowled a beauty of an in-swinger to Babar Azam who was struck plumb in front of the wickets for a duck. Singh then went on to set Mohammad Rizwan beautifully with full balls and a surprise short delivery to which Rizwan was found wanting for answers. In the last one year, Pakistan’s openers had scored 50 per cent of Pakistan’s total score and both the openers were dismissed within the first 24 deliveries.
Pakistan went on to make 159/8 and what followed was a game of two halves within a half
Iftikhar Ahmed and Shan Masood stitched an ever so crucial 76-run partrnership for the third wicket where Iftikhar smashed 4 sixes off Axar Patel, scoring 21 runs in a single over turning the momentum in Pakistan’s favour. Pakistan went on to score 159-6 from being 15-2 at the end of four overs. Thanks to Iftikhar-Masood partnership and a cameo from Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Chasing 159 was always going to be difficult for India’s batters given the kind of fierce bowling and the magnitude of an India Pakistan run chase. India’s openers were in absolute mute mode and failed to perform under pressure and on a big occasion, KL Rahul was outdone by a nothing shot where he chopped the ball onto the stumps, and Rohit Sharma was dismissed off a peach of a delivery by Haris Rauf and was caught by Iftikhar at first slip.
India were in serious trouble in the mother of all games with both the openers back in the shed with just 17 runs on the board at the end of four overs. India’s man of 2022, Suryakumar Yadav was dismissed soon by the extra bounce in Melbourne when Rauf bent his back a little more. Cricket trivia for Surya fans – Pakistan is the only team against whom SKY has been limited with scores of 11, 18, 13 and 15 on Sunday, failing to cross even 20 against Pakistan.
Haris Rauf was clearly the bowler against whom India’s batters where feeling cold and their feet seemed to be frozen out of sheer pace and movement. From being 2 down for 17 to taking the team to 144 at the end of the 19th over, it needed a special, once in a lifetime partnership and that took shape between India’s two most confident players – Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya - who kept on believing when rest of India had thrown in the towel in exasperation and what followed was sheer drama, tension and what the hype of INDIA-PAK is known for.
The match was down to its final over with 16 runs needed off six and with a spinner bowling, India fancied their chances but Hardik was dismissed off the first delivery from Mohammad Nawaz. Virat then smashed a ‘Virat’ six off a no ball to spread the game wide open with six needed off three. If someone needs to understand the definition of pressure, it was how Dinesh Karthik was stumped off a rather nothing shot in an attempt for glory.
A last ball thriller to say the least, beating the thriller movies, the adrenaline rush of a jet ride, the heat pumping pressure from a sky dive, nothing could have beaten the last ball finish one was witness to on Sunday, where Ravichandran Ashwin calmly and quite smartly played a lofted check shot over mid-on for a boundary to seal the game and settle the scores for India-Pakistan World Cup games at 13-1 and the horrors of 2021 World Cup were sealed off in the history books once again. The “G” cheered so loudly that the sound of the television screens broken across India’s borders went unnoticed amongst all.
Let’s scan the top three performances from the Group 2 game between India and Pakistan played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022.
The cheer should be as loud as the disrespect was for Arshdeep who returned figures of 3-32
From being booed by Indian fans across the globe two months ago for a dropped catch to the same fans chanting Arshdeep! Arshdeep! Time definitely changes. And that’s the best thing about it. Bowling the second over under immense pressure, Arshdeep served banana in-swingers on a platter to the World No.1 and No.3 T20I batters, Mohammad Rizwan and Bababr Azam.
A superb in-swinger from the left-arm angle on the pads of the right-hander could only end in one eventuality – the umpire raising the finger for Babar Azam to walk towards the dressing room for a duck. Arshdeep was bowling beautifully with controlled mix of in-swing and outswing not just to Rizwan but to Shan Masood too who had to put the dancing shoes to dance on Singh’s tune. The left-armer then mixed it up well to set Rizwan up with a sharp on the helmet bouncer to which the keeper batter could just top edge it to third man fielder Bhuvneshwar who took a comfortable catch. Arshdeep Singh then deployed the same short ball strategy against Asif Ali in the 17th over to send him packing back to the pavilion for a long and lonely walk.
Cometh the hour, Cometh the stage, Cometh India-Pak Games - Cometh King Kohli and Kung fu Pandya!
When Pakistan were moving comfortably at 96-3 at the end of 13 overs with seven overs and equal number of wickets left in the tank, they were targeting towards 170 to 180. Kung fu Pandya had other ideas though, as he dismissed Shadab Khan on the second delivery of the 14th over and then went on to pick Haider Ali’s wicket on the sixth ball of the same over to achieve a double strike for India.
The night was long and dark, and it wasn’t done by any means for Hardik Pandya, as he had an even more crucial role with the bat. With India down and out at 31-4 in the seventh over, needing another 129 runs in 83 deliveries, it was tough to say the least. Under a high-pressure atmosphere with 90,000+ supporters at the “G’ and the pitch helping the fast bowlers, it was more of Pakistan’s game than India’s with the kind of bowlers they had.
But as the saying goes - cometh the hour, cometh the stage, cometh the man, cometh King Virat Kohli, who took his time initially and was playing at a strike rate of below 60 for the first 18 deliveries. India needed 116 off the final 10 and not many were backing India to win it from there. Hardik was the positive batter of the two who wasn’t able to time the ball as per Pandya standards but kept on giving the belief to Kohli to take it deep and win it from there.
Both the batters were only taking chances against spinners, Nawaz and Shadab Khan, and did not hit a single six off the fast bowlers until the 19th over of the game. Says so much about the way the both pasted the run chase. India needed another 31 runs off the last 12 deliveries with Hardik and Kohli on the crease.
Tension was off the roof, goosebumps were off the hair and sweats were dropping like rain drops, but not for Kohli, who has been the master of run chases in the past decade. It was critical to hit Rauf in the 19th over or else the match was done and dusted and King didn’t disappoint, a tennis like bottom hand six off a short of a length delivery over long on, followed by a slice over fine leg which crossed the boundary ropes much in line with the prayers of the Indian fans.
A six off a no ball and India were in touching distance of victory on the back of a once in a million years innings from Virat ‘King’ Kohli and no surprise for it to come against Pakistan against whom he averages an inhuman 81.3 in T20Is, with five fifties in 10 innings, that means a fifty is guaranteed almost every second innings when Virat Kohli bats against Pakistan.
Iftikhar Ahmed the only silver lining in Pakistan’s scratchy middle overs showing
Pakistan were 15-2 at the end of four overs when the ball was swinging like a baby on a cradle, both ways to say the least. Pakistan needed a stable partnership and the blessing came in the form of Iftikhar Ahmed and Shan Masood’s partnership of 76 runs which was the make-or-break moment for Pakistan.
Iftikhar played a very sensible innings with zero risk shots against the faster bowlers and taking on Axar Patel in the 12th over, where he smashed 4 sixes in six deliveries and was successful in ensuring Axar didn’t get the ball in his hand for the rest of the nine overs. A smart yet aggressive innings of 51 runs from Iftikhar was the difference between Pakistan reaching 159 and getting bundled out under 140 which indeed helped the Pakistan bowlers to take the match deep.
ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022 Group 2 Points Table
After a thrilling, high strung, super voltage India-Pakistan match, Bangladesh will take on Netherlands in the 17th match of the World Cup at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart, followed by the two African teams – Zimbabwe and South Africa - going head-to-head at the same venue in the evening.
As far as the points table is concerned, all the teams of Group 1 have played one match each with New Zealand topping the group with a net run rate (NRR) of 4.45, and India topping Group 2 with an NRR of 0.05 with four teams yet to play a single match.