Asia Cup 2023: Rain and Pakistan pacers dent India's first innings total
In a riveting Asia Cup showdown between arch-rivals India and Pakistan, Pakistan's star pacer, Shaheen Afridi, showcased his prowess by taking four crucial wickets to halt India's innings at 266 runs.
In a captivating encounter filled with ups and downs, Pakistan's pacers dominated the proceedings, taking all 10 wickets to disrupt India's innings. Despite a shaky start, India managed to post a competitive total of 266, courtesy of a solid partnership between Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya. As the final wicket fell in the penultimate over, both teams are left with mixed feelings, realising they must work hard to secure victory in this thrilling contest.
Indian skipper Rohit Sharma's decision to bat first after winning the toss raised eyebrows, given the overcast conditions at the beginning of play. Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill opened the batting for India, with Rohit displaying his prowess by dispatching loose deliveries. However, Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah posed a formidable challenge.
The match saw only 4.2 overs in the initial phase before rain intervened, forcing the players off the field for a 33-minute break. Upon resumption, Shaheen Afridi found his rhythm again, dismissing Sharma for 11 with a splendid delivery. Virat Kohli, India's number three, briefly shone with a brilliant cover drive off Naseem but fell victim to a back-chopped delivery, granting Shaheen his second wicket. This brought Shreyas Iyer, making a comeback, to join Gill in the middle.
Iyer displayed composure and elegance at the crease, contributing 14 runs off just nine balls before succumbing to a short ball from Haris Rauf. Gill struggled to find his timing, and another brief rain interruption ensued. Upon the resumption of play, Gill was dismissed for a 32-ball 10, with Rauf securing his second scalp.
The turning point arrived when Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya took charge, leading India's recovery. Together, they formed a formidable partnership for the fifth wicket, frustrating Pakistan's bowlers. Both batsmen capitalized on loose deliveries and steadily accumulated runs. Kishan showcased his skill, reaching his fifty off 54 balls, while Pandya achieved his half-century in 62 balls, leaving Pakistan searching for answers.
The partnership between Kishan and Pandya yielded 138 runs, establishing the highest fifth-wicket partnership for India in Asia Cup history, before Kishan departed for 82. Pandya then accelerated the scoring, consistently finding the boundaries before being caught at covers for 87.
Pakistan's bowlers rallied towards the end of the innings, leading to a mini-collapse as Ravindra Jadeja (14) and Shardul Thakur (3) fell quickly. Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah managed a valuable 19-run partnership before Yadav departed for four. Bumrah was the last wicket to fall, scoring 16, as India concluded their innings at 266.
Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi emerged as the standout bowler, claiming four wickets while conceding only 35 runs in his 10 overs, including two maidens. Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf also contributed with a couple of wickets each. India has set a competitive target, but rain has interrupted play at the moment. Pakistan will need a strong batting performance to chase it down, once play resumes. The stage is set for an exhilarating chase, promising more excitement in this Asia Cup clash. Stay tuned for Pakistan's reply.