Hardik Pandya produced a special allround effort as India held nerves to pull off an exciting five-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan in their Asia Cup opener at Dubai on Sunday. Hardik (3/25 in 4 overs) showed his high value under extreme pressure as his well-directed short balls helped India bowl out Pakistan for 147.
It should have been straight forward chase but India’s experienced top-three faltered, putting extra pressure on the middle order.
Hardik (33 not out off 17) and Ravindra Jadeja (35 off 29) then shared a 52-run stand to take India on the cusp of a famous win. The star all-rounder’s three fours off Haris Rauf off the 19th over effectively sealed the game for India. With the team needing 6 off three balls, Hardik finished the game with a six off left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz. The focus was on India’s top three going into the tournament and all three - K L Rahul (0), Rohit Sharma (12 off 18) and Virat Kohli (35 off 34)- did not have the best of times in the middle. Rahul was out first ball with a tentative away from the body stroke off Naseem Shah that saw him playing on to his stumps.
Virat, who did hit a couple of confident pull shots in his innings, was dropped in the first over. He also played and missed a few times and also got lucky when a mistimed pull went all the way for six.With luck going his way, it seemed Kohli will finally get a much awaited big score but he was caught at long off off Nawaz. In his previous over, Rohit was too dismissed in a similar fashion as he attempted to clear the long off fielder. With Pakistani pacers led by debutant Naseem troubling the Indian batters with extra pace and spinners keeping it tidy, 86 runs off the last 10 overs seemed a tough task.
When Shah returned to rattle Suryakumar Yadav’s stumps, India were reduced to 89 for four. Brief Scores: Pakistan: 147 all out in 19. 5 overs (Mohammed Rizwan 43, Hardik Pandya 3/25, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4/26). India 148 in 19. 4 overs (Hardik Pandya 33 no off 17 balls, Ravindra Jadeja 35 off 29 balls).