Asia Cup: India stunned by arch rivals Pakistan
It wasn't just a cricket match. It was a clash between two nations. Pakistan held their nerves in what was a thrilling encounter, beating home favourites India by 1 wicket at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur on Sunday.
Things went Pakistan's way right from the toss. They elected to bowl first, putting pressure on an Indian batting line-up sans MS Dhoni. Dhawan and Kohli fell early, but Rohit Sharma looked like a man on mission, smashing his 22nd ODI fifty in quick time. However, Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Talha bowled tight spells and provoked Sharma to make a mistake, who gave debutant Talha his maiden wicket. His departure made way for Ambati Rayudu, who grabbed the opportunity and scored only his 2nd ODI fifty alongside Rahane. The latter though, succumbed soon after and India were tottering at 103/4.
Rayudu added 52 crucial runs with Dinesh Karthik, but Karthik's hurried approach cost India another setback. Ravindra Jadeja's late resurgence gave India some hopes of putting up a decent total on the board. His knock of 52 came in just 49 balls and included 4 fours and 2 sixes, before he was dismissed by the canny Ajmal, who also struck twice in the penultimate over. India could just about manage 245/8 in 50 overs.
Openers Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad gave Pakistan exactly the kind of start they needed. The duo put up a 71-run stand, before the injured Sharjeel was bowled through the gates by Ashwin. Mohammad Hafeez registered his 19th half-century in ODIs and it couldn't have come at a better time. His composed innings of 75 helped Pakistan settle in the chase, but Amit Mishra had other plans. His two quick wickets and a Misbah run-out reduced Pakistan to 113/4 and the match suddenly looked even-stevens.
Pakistan's fate now rested in their most experienced cricketer, Shahid Afridi. Another run-out ensued and Pakistan still needed 44 off 36 deliveries. Along with Umar Gul, Afridi batted calculatively, striking regular blows and derailing the Indian express. All was well until they lost 3 wickets in 5 balls and the game turned in India's favour. However, Afridi's two massive sixes in the final over sealed the match for Pakistan, taking the India-Pakistan rivalry to a whole new level.
Unless the other teams cause major upsets, Pakistan will most likely face Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup finale on Saturday.