Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and all-rounder Kedar Jadhav took three wickets apiece to lead their side to a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Pakistan in Dubai.
With India triumphing with 126 balls to spare, it was their biggest wins in terms of ball remaining.
Opting to bat first, Pakistan made a horrible start to their innings as opener Imam-ul-Haq was caught behind off the bowling of Kumar for two runs.
Fakhar Zaman, who opened the batting with Imam, failed to trouble the scorers as he was caught by Yuzvendra Chahal at midwicket off the bowling of Kumar for a duck.
Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik stabilised the innings with an 82-run partnership before Azam was clean bowled by Kuldeep Yadav for 47.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed only mustered six runs before he was brilliantly caught by Manish Pandey, who came on to replace Hardik Pandya after the latter sustained an injury while bowling, off the bowling of Jadhav.
Malik went on to make 43 before he was run out by Ambati Rayudu.
Jadhav then took out Asif Ali and Shadab Khan as Pakistan began to crumble.
Even though Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Amir scored 21 and an unbeaten 18 respectively, Pakistan were skittled out for 162.
Kumar and Jadhav picked up three wickets apiece, while Jasprit Bumrah snapped up two and Kuldeep chipped in with one.
Chasing 163 to win, India made a fantastic start to their innings as captain Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan amassed an 86-run partnership, during which Rohit brought up his fifty.
However, shortly after doing so, he was cleaned up by Shadab for 52, which came off 39 balls and included six boundaries ans three sixes.
Dhawan went on to make 46 before he was caught by Azam at point off the bowling of Faheem.
That was to be Pakistan’s last taste of success for the remainder of the match as Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik finished things off with an unbeaten 60-run stand.
Rayudu ended up making 31 off 46 balls, which included three boundaries, while Karthik also remained undefeated on 31, which came off 37 deliveries and included two boundaries and a six.
Shadab and Faheem claimed one wicket each.
Sarfraz was less than impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “We didn’t have a good start. Lost two wickets in the first five overs. Then regular wickets then meant we couldn’t come back into the game. You can say we batted poorly.
“The wickets were soft dismissals, except Babar’s. So we need to see how we play in the future. We did prepare for the two main spinners, but got out to the third one (Jadhav). This is a good wake-up call before the super fours.”
Rohit was thrilled to have won, and said: “Right from the start we were quite disciplined. Wanted to learn from yesterday’s mistakes. Was a great game for the bowling unit, especially since we knew it won’t be difficult in these conditions. We stuck to the plan and did what we had planned to do on this surface.
“Spinners kept it tight, got the odd breakthrough, but the wickets in the first couple of overs was very important. It was important to get early wickets because they’ve got some quality in the batting. So we didn’t want to make things easy for them. We kept things on the stumps and we spoke about not giving Pakistan room.
“When Babar and Shoaib were getting a partnership we discussed not to panic, and I was happy we didn’t. Kedar has been working on his bowling, and he takes his bowling seriously. It augurs well for the team, and the wickets are a bonus for us. His overs in middle are very crucial, especially after Hardik’s injury.
“Quite enjoyed my little innings, got out to a great delivery but it was important to come and adjust to the surfaces here. Now we know exactly what to do. Need to create partnerships to achieve the targets we want to get. And fantastic finish by Dinesh and Rayudu as well.”
Kumar was named Man of the Match, and said: “Need to get initial wickets if you want to beat your opponents. On a track which doesn’t swing, you can just bowl stump-to-stump and hope not to give too many runs. That way they make mistakes and that’s the best way to get them out. It’s a hot place, and tracks are flat, so it’s not easy for the bowlers.”