India thrashes Pakistan in a low-scoring thriller t 20

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India beat Pakistan by 6 runs in New York

India came from behind to defend 119 – the lowest total that they’ve defended in a T20I – as they registered their second win of the T20 World Cup 2024. On the other hand, after suffering their second successive loss, the runners-up of the previous edition Pakistan now stare at the embarrassing probability of a first-round exit. The pitch in New York’s Nassau County International Stadium was not conducive for big-hitting once again, leaving both teams’ bowlers at the forefront of the low-scoring thriller.

The middle overs spell where Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah not only kept things tight but also struck crucial blows turned the game back slowly towards India. Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman had started Pakistan’s march with 16 runs coming in 19 balls before Pandya had Zaman caught behind. Like India’s innings, this also triggered a massive turnaround in Pakistan’s innings as they managed only 40 runs from the last 46 balls.

After Pandya’s breakthrough, India’s bowlers all chipped in with Jasprit Bumrah putting up a stellar show to bag his second Man of the Match performance in as many games as he finished with 3-14. It started the squeeze where India’s bowlers put in a collective effort in the back-end to choke Pakistan.Toss: Babar Azam had no hesitation in bowling under overcast conditions and on a pitch that had a history of being bowler-friendly.

Despite a delayed start due to rain and then another break after the game had started, no overs were lost when play resumed. Virat Kohli began with a rousing cover drive off Naseem Shah. Adding Rohit Sharma’s flick off Shaheen Afridi earlier, the Indian openers had sounded out their intent early. But the pitch was still not the easiest to bat on with the ball stopping a touch combined with movement. Kohli was out chasing a wide delivery and smashing it to cover point. Rohit’s extravagant flick was also miscued leaving him caught to deep square leg.

Pakistan’s field positions to the two worked to plan and India replied with a change-up in their batting order bringing up the left-handed Axar Patel to partner Rishabh Pant. Both batters though lived streakily with a number of edges going away from the fielders and even fetching them boundaries. In between Patel managed a deft upper cut and a loft down the ground to keep the runs coming as India brought up their fifty inside the powerplay.

In the space of eighteen balls, India lost four wickets for eight runs as they slipped to 97/7 at the end of the 15th over. The turnaround had been rather swift and sudden after Rishabh Pant had threatened to take India to a good total on the tricky surface. Pant hit three boundaries off Haris Rauf to finally inject some momentum in an otherwise scratchy innings. Despite getting into the forties though, it was clear that this was not a pitch for shot-making.

Batter after batter had fallen to catches with the ball seemingly stopping on them. Axar Patel had been bowled off a skidder from Shah while Suryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dube, Pant and Ravindra Jadeja all fell to catches inside the circle. The last two were picked up off consecutive deliveries from Amir while Naseem added two more to his tally as India’s shot selection left much to be desired. It brought Pakistan roaring back into a commanding position.

Hardik Pandya, the last recognised batter left in the middle could not do much to salvage India’s dire position. He ended up flicking Haris Rauf to deep square leg leaving Pakistan cock-a-hoop. India’s tail could not do much on the pitch with Pakistan getting their zones right throughout. Rauf came back strongly in this phase to finish with a three-wicket haul just like Naseem.

Desperately needing some early breakthroughs while defending a low target, India were kept at bay as Pakistan’s top order respected the conditions on offer to play watchfully. While Rizwan led that approach, keeping his defence tight, Babar Azam departed nicking off against Bumrah after a couple of eye-catching shots. Both batters had been given early lives, with Shivam Dube putting down Rizwan at fine leg off Bumrah and Siraj dropping a return catch from Azam. It allowed Pakistan to be circumspect for longer as they trudged their way to 35 inside the powerplay.

Rizwan played an anchor right through and ended up with 31 off 44. It was a knock that kept Pakistan from collapsing like India did but also did not help them push the scoring late along. The batters at the other end were up to taking more chances like Fakhar Zaman did when he lofted his second ball for a six. It came soon after Usman Khan was trapped LBW by Axar Patel.

But Zaman’s brief knock was cut short when he was out gloving a pull against Hardik Pandya to the wicket-keeper. Rohit then turned to his talisman Jasprit Bumrah, and the pacer struck a big blow off the first delivery of his third over. A well-set Rizwan saw a delivery keep a touch low and was bowled neck and crop creating a massive twist in the back-end.

At a crucial juncture, Imad Wasim managed only 15 off 23, even missing three consecutive deliveries against a favourable match-up of left-arm spin of Axar Patel. In the final five overs of the innings when the boundaries were at a premium, India managed to keep things exceptionally tight. Iftikhar Ahmed even missed out against a couple of full tosses, being caught off one as Pakistan’s innings nosedived. The tacky nature of the surface didn’t help their cause as Pakistan pushed themselves into a corner from where they couldn’t crawl out.

Brief Scores: India 119 in 19 overs (Rishabh Pant 42; Naseem Shah 3-21, Haris Rauf 3-21) beat Pakistan 113/7 in 20 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 31; Jasprit Bumrah 3-14) by 6 runs

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