Hardik Pandya Leads India To A stunning Victory Against Pakistan In Dubai

Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja‘s heroics with the bat helped India defeat Pakistan by five wickets to win their first Group A match in Asia Cup 2022 at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday, August 28th. After Pakistan made 147 all out in 19.5 overs, India needed 59 off the last six overs on a two-paced pitch.

From there, Pandya (33 not out) and Jadeja (35) shared a stand of 52 runs off just 29 balls. Even though the left-handed Jadeja fell in the final over, Pandya finished off things with a six over long-on to take India over the line and add another thrilling chapter in the history of India-Pakistan clashes.

Just like Pakistan, India had an eventful first over. Debutant pacer Naseem Shah struck on just his second T20I ball, as K.L Rahul inside-edged to his stumps. Virat Kohli, playing in his 100th T20I, was dropped by Fakhar Zaman at second slip while chasing a wide one. Kohli was nervous in his start as many inside and outside edges came off his bat.

He showed signs of his authoritative self when he pulled through mid-wicket off Shahnawaz Dahani in the second over. After a top-edge went over keeper’s head for a six, Kohli’s authority was visible in his slash through cover and whipping over mid-wicket to collect two boundaries.

Rohit Sharma, cautious till then, opened up in eighth over when he slog-swept Mohammad Nawaz over long-on. But the left-arm spinner had the last laugh as Rohit holed out to long-off on the final ball of the over. In his next over, Nawaz had another big scalp as Kohli chipped straight to long-off.

Jadeja started off his promotion at number four by smacking Nawaz down the ground for a 98m six. He and Suryakumar Yadav got a four each and relied mainly on strike rotation to keep the scoreboard moving.

The 36-run stand was broken by Naseem, who knocked off Suryakumar’s off-stump on the first ball of his second spell. With 41 needed off the last four overs, Jadeja and Hardik Pandya hanged in to bring the equation to 32 off the last three overs. Like India, Pakistan too were penalised for a slow over rate as one extra fielder came into the 30-year circle.

By then, Pakistan were struggling as their pacers got cramps and Jadeja survived an lbw appeal off Naseem Shah clearly in pain after a review showed the ball pitching outside the leg-stump. On the very next ball, Jadeja lofted with a straight bat down the ground for six as India needed 21 runs off the last two overs.

On the third ball of the 19th over, Pandya flat-batted Haris Rauf over extra-cover and got a boundary as Babar chased the ‘all, but couldn’t stop it from hitting the boundary rope. Pandya then swatted Rauf over wide long-on and brought out a short-arm jab on the last ball for a four splitting deep mid-wicket and long-on for perfection.

With seven needed off the final over, Nawaz struck on the first ball as Jadeja was clean bowled while going for an expansive slog. Pandya finished off the match in style by clobbering Nawaz over long-on to win an absorbing contest.

Pandya’s triple strike (3/25) in overs 11-15 meant Pakistan couldn’t really recover from it and crashed to 147 all out. With the bat, Pandya hanged around with Ravindra Jadeja to bring the equation to 32 off the last three overs. By then, Pakistan were struggling as their pacers got cramps and in the 19th over, Pandya flat-batted Haris Rauf over extra-cover and got a boundary as Babar chased the ball, but couldn’t stop it from hitting the boundary rope. Brief scores: Pakistan 147 all out in 19.5 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 43, Iftikhar Ahmed 28; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-26, Hardik Pandya 3-24) lost to India 148-5 in 19.4 overs (Virat Kohli 35, Ravindra Jadeja 35; Mohammad Nawaz 3-33, Naseem Shah 2-27) by five wickets.

“I was remembering everything. I was being stretchered out of the ground, and it was the same dressing room. Yes, today I felt a sense of achievement because what I have gone through to come back and to get the opportunity… that journey is very beautiful,” said Pandya in a conversation with Jadeja in a video posted on bcci.tv on Monday.

“The comeback is greater than the setback.” With this line after India defeated Pakistan by five wickets in an absorbing Asia Cup 2022 contest, India all-rounder Hardik Pandya himself summed up his life completing a full circle in the Dubai International Stadium, seen from the pictures of 2018 and 2022.

“Hardik Pandya is the world’s best all rounder at the moment,” Wasim Akram raved on the night Hardik beat Pakistan with a stunning performance with the bat and the ball. All the usual Hardik signposts were visible: With the ball, the confidence to use the bouncer liberally, the hard lengths he is most comfortable with. With the bat, the careful deliberate positioning of the body and the areas he accesses and the eerie calmness, right till the end.

With Pandya now being able to deliver consistent all-round performances for India, it is a massive boost for the side ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November.

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