Ironically, Pakistan’s greatest strengths in important games and competitions have been their unpredictability. In the second thriller between the two sides in this Asia Cup on Sunday, they managed to upset India by using another unanticipated player, Mohammad Nawaz. India is now exposed in the Super 4s after Pakistan defeated them by five wickets with one ball remaining.
With the score at 63/2 in the ninth over and the team chasing 182 runs, the left-arm spinner entered the field at No. 4 and returned figures of 1/25. Nawaz unleashed a furious counterattack on the Indian bowlers to score a 20-ball 42, smashing six boundaries and two sixes in front of the wicket, and put India on the back foot while Mohammad Rizwan batted like a rock at the other end. Yuzvendra Chahal, India’s middle-over trump card, was neutralised by him, who milked him for 1/43 in his four overs.
The Indian team buckled under pressure even as Rizwan dropped for a 51-ball 71 in a matter of seconds to Pandya’s slower ball at long-off after Nawaz went the same way off Bhuvneshwar Kumar. In the 18th over, Arshdeep Singh mishandled a sitter that Asif Ali offered at short-third.
Khushdil Shah and Asif, who needed 26 runs off 12 balls, attacked Bhuvneshwar, the most seasoned seamer in India, exposing his death-bowling skills to score 19 runs off the 19th over. With only seven in the bank, Arshdeep’s attempt to atone for the missed catch was always going to be difficult.