ICC T20 World Cup: India Seizes Victory as Pakistan Fumbles in Do-or-Die Encounter

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Reported By Varad Bhatkhande

New York, 10th June 2024: India clinched victory against Pakistan in a low-scoring thriller that went down to the last over. Defending a meagre total of just 120 runs, India managed to edge out Pakistan, securing a win by a margin of 6 runs. Despite an underwhelming batting performance from India, Jasprit Bumrah emerged as the hero, overturning the match with his exceptional bowling for the Blues.

In a match where rain played a role, with weather conditions, the toss, and the pitch all favouring Pakistan, they still fell short in this do-or-die encounter. Alongside Bumrah’s brilliance, Pakistan’s batters also contributed to their downfall with a questionable game plan while chasing a low total. Despite restricting India to a modest score, Pakistan’s batting failed to chase it down, leaving them with slim chances of qualifying for the Super Eight.

The highly anticipated match was postponed due to a rain-delayed toss. The pitch at this stadium has been notoriously challenging for batsmen in the last three games. Despite efforts to improve it, S. Sreesanth advised that, given the overseas conditions, the team winning the toss should bowl first and allow the pitch to settle.

Although Indian skipper Rohit Sharma retired hurt in the last match against Ireland, the “Hitman” was back for the toss, bringing immense relief and joy to Indian fans who had anxiously feared their leader’s absence. Pakistan skipper Babar Azam won the toss and chose to field first, announcing one change in the team. He said, “We will bowl first due to the pitch and weather conditions. This suits us as we have a great pace attack and will try to use it to our best. The past is past; we are focused on today’s match and ready to give 100%. India vs. Pakistan is always a big game, and we are confident. Azam Khan is resting, and Imad Wasim will replace him.”

Rohit Sharma, on losing the toss and announcing that he would stick with the same team from the last match, said, “We would have bowled too. We need to see how the conditions play out and develop a good score. We have plans as a batting unit and a good bowling unit too. We are sticking with the same team from the last match.”

India Restricted To 119 Runs

After the national anthems for both teams, India, who were forced to bat, opened with Rohit Sharma and star batsman Virat Kohli. They started steadily, scoring 8 runs in the first over without loss. However, rain briefly interrupted the match after the first over.

After play resumed following the rain delay, Naseem Shah managed to “switch off” the “Run Machine” by dismissing Kohli in the second over, caught at point by Usman Khan. Kohli scored 4 runs off 3 balls, bringing Rishabh Pant to the crease. Sharma followed Kohli, attempting to counterattack, but was caught at square leg by Haris Rauf off Shaheen Afridi’s delivery. Rohit Sharma scored 13 off 12 balls before getting dismissed. Surprisingly, Axar Patel followed, likely to counter Pakistan’s left-arm bowling attack with a lefty-lefty combination alongside Pant. This strategy partially worked as India managed to score 50 runs in 6 overs, losing two wickets. Pant and Patel, although scrappy, attacked effectively while Pakistan, initially fielding well, made some blunders.

Pakistan brought in off-spin and right-arm bowlers to counter the left-handers as soon as the powerplay ended. This strategy proved effective when Naseem Shah clean-bowled Axar Patel, who was looking for a big shot. Axar managed to score 20 runs off 18 balls before India decided to return to a righty-lefty combination with Suryakumar Yadav joining Rishabh Pant. Pant adopted an aggressive stance as India steadied itself, reaching 81 runs in 10 overs despite earlier setbacks. However, Suryakumar again failed to impress on the big stage, scoring only 7 runs off 8 balls before being dismissed by Haris Rauf, caught at mid-off by Mohammad Amir. India then reverted to a lefty-lefty combination with Shivam Dube joining Pant. Dube soon followed Yadav’s fate, scoring just 3 off 9 balls before being caught and bowled by Naseem Shah on a mistimed shot. Hardik Pandya, in form, joined Pant after Dube’s dismissal. Pant, who was well-settled, mistimed a straight lofted shot and was caught by captain Babar Azam off Amir’s delivery. He scored 42 runs off 31 balls, the highest by an Indian wicketkeeper against Pakistan in T20Is. Ravindra Jadeja followed, getting out on a golden duck, caught at covers by Imad Wasim off Amir’s bowling—a soft dismissal. With the tailenders starting to come in, bowler Arshdeep Singh joined Pandya after Jadeja’s dismissal. Despite the setbacks, India managed to surpass the 100-run mark in the 16th over, but at the cost of losing 7 wickets.

Every Indian fan relied on Pandya to rescue the team, but in an attempt to attack, he mistimed a shot towards square leg, where Iftikhar Ahmed caught him off Haris Rauf’s delivery. With Pandya, the last recognized batsman, scoring 7 off 11 balls, Jasprit Bumrah followed and was out on a golden duck. Haris Rauf’s hat-trick ball was narrowly avoided by Mohammed Siraj, who followed Bumrah. Pakistan’s poor fielding continued, allowing India’s lower order to steal some runs. India managed a low total, getting all out for 119 on the last ball of the 19th over, their lowest score against Pakistan in T20Is. This score is slightly above the stadium’s average of 103.

Pakistan’s bowling attack shone, restricting India’s momentum and taking wickets at regular intervals. The pace attack was particularly impressive, dominating Indian batting. Naseem Shah took 3 wickets in his four overs, conceding only 21 runs at an economy rate of less than a run per ball, dismissing Kohli, Dube, and Axar. Haris Rauf also took 3 wickets in 3 overs at a 7-run economy rate, dismissing Pandya, Yadav, and Bumrah. Mohammad Amir took 2 wickets, while Shaheen Afridi claimed the crucial wicket of skipper Rohit Sharma.

Pakistan’s Chase

Chasing a modest target of 120 runs, Pakistan opened with skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, who began the innings steadily. Despite India’s intent, poor fielding, including dropped catches by Dube and Siraj, let them down. However, India got a morale boost when skipper Babar edged a delivery from Bumrah to slip, where Suryakumar Yadav took an excellent low catch. Babar scored 13 off 10 balls. Usman Khan walked in after Babar’s dismissal. By the end of the powerplay, Pakistan had scored 35 runs for the loss of one wicket, compared to India’s 50 for two.

Post powerplay, India maintained much-needed momentum, while Pakistan played cautiously to avoid losing wickets. India introduced spin with Jadeja and Axar as the middle overs began. Despite stabilization from Rizwan and Usman, crossing the 50-run mark in the 9th over, Axar dismissed Usman after an overturned LBW decision, scoring 13 runs off 15 balls. Fakhar Zaman replaced Usman as Pakistan reached the 100-run mark in the 11th over. Fakhar initially settled into his rhythm but couldn’t sustain the momentum, edging Pandya’s delivery to Pant, who took a spectacular catch. Fakhar departed after scoring 13 runs off 8 balls. Imad Wasim joined Rizwan, the anchor of Pakistan’s innings. Bumrah then clean-bowled Rizwan, who was batting on 31 runs off 44 balls, bringing Shadab Khan to the crease. As the game reached an interesting point, with momentum shifting towards India, Pakistan managed to score 85 runs for the loss of 4 wickets at the end of the middle overs. Neither the experts, fans, nor the players themselves could predict the winner.

The death overs for Pakistan began with them needing 35 runs in the last 4 overs. Shadab’s edged shot was caught by Pant running behind off Pandya’s delivery, dismissing Shadab on 4 runs off 7 balls. Iftikhar Ahmed joined Imad as they required 30 runs off the last 3 overs. India maintained intensity, locking down the Pakistanis. With 21 runs needed off 2 overs, India’s clutch bowler Bumrah was tasked with the crucial penultimate over. Iftikhar was dismissed for 5 runs off 9 balls, caught by Arshdeep at square leg off Bumrah’s full toss. Shaheen Afridi came in after Iftikhar’s dismissal. Bumrah conceded only 3 runs in the second-last over, leaving Pakistan needing 18 runs off the last over, bowled by Arshdeep. Arshdeep dismissed Imad, the last recognized batsman, on the first ball of the last over, leaving the task to the Pakistani tailenders. However, they failed to deliver as Pakistan scored 113 runs for the loss of 7 wickets in 20 overs, losing the match by 6 runs.

India, initially bowling underwhelmingly with a low total to defend, completed a spectacular comeback. Jasprit Bumrah emerged as the architect of the comeback, taking 3 wickets in his 4 overs while conceding only 14 runs at an economy rate of 3.5. Bumrah’s crucial dismissals included Captain Babar, Rizwan, and Iftikhar. Pandya complemented Bumrah well, taking 2 wickets in his 4 overs, contributing significantly to India’s defence of the low total. Arshdeep and Axar also chipped in with one wicket each.

Post Match

In the post-match presentation, Bumrah was awarded the Player of the Match for his excellent bowling performance. He expressed, “It feels really good. We felt under par initially, and on top of that when the sun came out, the wicket got better for batting. We were disciplined in our bowling. Our game plan was to maintain intensity throughout. We were happy with the support we received here, which motivated us to win.”

This defeat marked Pakistan’s consecutive loss in the tournament, making it very challenging for them to qualify for the Super Eight. India secured first place in the group stage with a comfortable net run rate of +1.46. India is set to face the host nation and inform the USA on 12th June, while Pakistan will be up against Canada on 11th June.