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T20 World Cup 2021: Unpredictable Pakistan just follow their process to stun India

October 24, 2021 / 11:15 PM IST
Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, centre, hugs Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan after Pakistan won the the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan in Dubai, UAE, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, centre, hugs Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan after Pakistan won the the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan in Dubai, UAE, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Long before the start of the Super 12, Babar Azam was asked about the upcoming clash with India and his answer was fairly straightforward. "Past is gone, we are not thinking about it rather we are focusing on the future. I am confident that we are well prepared and will play good cricket in the match."

At first glance it might seem like one of those eye-catching tabloid headlines, but Babar knew what he was talking about. A leader cannot often speak for his entire team, but Babar was assured about two things Pakistan had done right in the lead up to the tournament - get wickets with the new ball and not lose wickets to the new ball.

Plan one involved Shaheen Shah Afridi and his wicket-taking ability in the powerplay overs and plan two involved himself and Mohammad Rizwan. Together, the three are the best T20 players Pakistan have in their setup. As much as cricket is a team sport, in T20 cricket, on any given day, a good player can more than just merely influence the game.

For Pakistan, on Saturday, in their big clash against India with the odds, history, records, recent form and everything against them, all of their three big guns stepped up.

First it was Shaheen, who realising the importance of the early wicket, dished out a special in-swinging yorker to send Rohit Sharma packing for a golden duck. If India were overconfident given their run into the tournament and performances in the warm-up games, that delivery was enough to jolt them back to reality.

Close

It isn't the first time India have struggled against a left-arm quick in the powerplay overs of a global event. Roll back the clock to 2017 and Mohammad Amir's incisive spell. If that was excellent, this was almost as good. Shaheen, channeling his inner Amir, gave India another reality check next over, cleaning up KL Rahul for three to dent India further.

Suryakumar Yadav followed suit soon after and the gloom had descended on the Indian camp. Virat Kohli, accused for his form and lack of impact in recent times, appeared a forlorn figure amidst a sea of green. He resisted, fought back, counter punched and with Rishabh Pant in tandem, it seemed like India were getting away at one stage.

The wicket-keeper batter even unfurled one of those one-handed special sixes. Kohli even completed a half-century, his fourth in his last five T20Is. In the end, India had just about enough with 151 on board. Considering they were 31/3, this was a pretty good total. Good enough to challenge Pakistan? Sure, the only problem is getting past the opening duo.

Little did India realise that Pakistan's openers knew this as well too. Unlike India, Pakistan didn't start on the backfoot. The runs kept flowing right from the word go as Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam batted as though they didn't know the India-Pakistan history in World Cups. They didn't need to know.

They waded past the mystery spin of Varun Chakravarthy, the tight overs from Jasprit Bumrah and the early swing threat of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Never for once did Pakistan look out of the contest. Never for once did Babar and Rizwan bat an eyelid.

Before today, since 2020, Babar and Rizwan had 521 partnership runs at an average of 52.1 with two hundred stands and a fifty stand. They knew what they were doing. They knew the middle-order was vulnerable and they ensured the job was done before India could even get a sniff.

This wasn't the familiar, unpredictable Pakistan on display. Instead, it was calculated, the scoring rate measured, the plans solid and the execution impeccable. If anything, as they knocked off the target with all wickets in the bank, it seemed like all those years of wait for a World Cup win against their arch-rivals India was fully worth it. This was a win for the ages and will rightly be remembered so.

Final score

India 151/7 (Kohli 57, Shaheen 3/31, Hasan 2/44)

Pakistan 152/0 (Rizwan 79*, Babar 68*)

Pakistan win by 10 wickets
Moneycontrol News
first published: Oct 24, 2021 11:14 pm

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