Hardik Pandya starred with bat and ball to lead India to a five-wicket win over Pakistan in a last-over Twenty20 thriller in the Asia Cup on Sunday. Chasing 148 for victory, Ravindra Jadeja, who hit 35, and Pandya, unbeaten on 33, put on a key fifth-wicket stand of 52 as India achieved the target with two balls to spare in Dubai.
Pace bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pandya shared seven wickets to set up victory for India in their opening match as they bowled out Pakistan for 147. Pandya, who returned figures of 3-25 with his medium-pace bowling, then stood calm to hit the winning six in a tense chase in the six-nation tournament which acts as a tune-up for the T20 World Cup in October-November in Australia.
India, who lost their previous match with to Pakistan by 10 wickets in last year’s T20 World Cup at the same venue, improved their win-loss record to 8-2 against the arch-rivals in Virat Kohli’s 100th T20 international. Debutant pace bowler Naseem Shah stood out for Pakistan with figures of 2-27 but a foot injury in the last few overs had him limping as India took control with the right-left batting pair of Pandya and Jadeja.
Pakistan kept chipping away with wickets as Naseem bowled Suryakumar Yadav for 18 and Mohammad Nawaz rattled the stumps of Jadeja in the final over. Virat Kohli scored 35 before falling to Nawaz’s left-arm spin that also claimed skipper Rohit Sharma for 12.
Naseem struck early with the wicket of KL Rahul for nought as the opener dragged an express delivery on to his stumps.The 19-year old Naseem nearly got Kohli out two balls later only for Fakhar Zaman to drop a catch at second slip. Kohli, who has endured a prolonged lean patch and recently spoke of his mental health struggles, overcame initial jitters and seemed to find his flow with a few convincing boundaries including a wristy drive over mid-on before getting out.
Earlier Kumar set the tone for India’s dominance as he dismissed skipper Babar Azam for 10 in the second over and returned figures of 4-26. Pandya rattled Pakistan’s middle-order with his three wickets including the dangerman wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan who had hit 43 off 42 balls. Kumar returned to take two wickets in two balls in the penultimate over but was denied a hat-trick by number 11 Shahnawaz Dahani. Dahani smashed two sixes in his six-ball 16 before being bowled by left-arm medium-pace bowler Arshdeep Singh, who took two wickets as Pakistan’s innings folded in 19.5 overs.