Hardik Pandya showed his high value under extreme pressure as his well-directed short balls helped India limit Pakistan to 147 all out in their Asia Cup opener here on Sunday. Rohit Sharma decided to chase after winning the toss and the bowlers, led by Hardik, set up the game nicely for India. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4/26) was at his skilful best and his four wicket haul included the prized scalp of Babar Azam (10). However, Hardik’s envious figures of 3 for 25 in four overs, during the middle phase, triggered a Pakistani batting collapse.
Young seamer Arshdeep Singh also returned decent figures of 2 for 33 in his first ever appearance in an Indo-Pak clash as all 10 wickets were snapped by speed merchants, a first for India in shortest version. The first over of the game bowled by Bhuvneshwar was a rather eventful one as it included two DRS calls going in favour of Mohammad Rizwan (43 off 42) and a straight drive from Babar.
The umpire adjudged Rizwan leg before wicket off second delivery but ball tracking showed it was going over the stumps.
Four balls later the Indians thought Rizwan got a faint edge on way to the wicketkeeper but the ‘ultra edge’ showed a flat-line on review.
There was not much movement around for both Bhuvneshwar and Arshdeep Singh as they managed to keep things tight in their two over opening spell.
Babar straight drove Arshdeep in the second over, showing the sublime touch he has been in over the past 12 months.
Bhuvneshwar, however, surprised the Pakistan skipper with a bouncer in his second over and he went for the pull only to top edge to Arshdeep at short fine leg.
India went in with Avesh Khan as the third pace option and he struck in his opening over after Rizwan smashed him for a six and four towards the midwicket region.
His fifth ball of the over was faced by left-handed Fakhar Zaman who decided to walk after edging a short and wide ball to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik who was picked ahead of Rishabh Pant for the big game.
With the crowd making a lot of noise, the Indians did not hear the edge but Zaman decided to walk, leaving Pakistan at 43 for two in six overs.
Rizwan then shared a 45-run stand for the third wicket with Iftikhar Ahmed (28 off 22) to give the innings some momentum.
However, Hardik changed the course of the game removing the well set Iftikhar and Rizwan with well directed short balls — the former edged it to Karthik and latter, not sure of what he was doing, ended up giving a regulation catch to third man.
Soon after, Hardik removed Khushdil Shah with another short ball to leave Pakistan at 97 for five in the 15th over.
Number 11 Shahnawaz Dahani hammered two big sixes in the death overs to take Pakistan closer to 150.
India took five wickets in the last 30 balls but also ended up conceding 45 runs.
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