It was the first game for both sides and it was imperative for both to start with a win and build momentum. The fans’ expectations were that of an interesting, thrilling contest.
What a match! WHAT A MATCH! The jitters still haven’t gone! It’s been a while since we’ve witnessed something like this, and it took us all by surprise, I’m sure! India vs Pakistan, a match between arch-rivals, that too in a World Cup.
Pakistan winning handsomely against India last year and creating history, there was even more pressure, even more expectations from fans of both sides. Indian fans were looking for redemption, while the Pakistani fans were hoping that their team could continue winning against India, as in T20 WC 2021 and the Asia Cup 2022.
It was the first game for both sides and it was imperative for both to start with a win and build momentum. The fans’ expectations were that of an interesting, thrilling contest. All this added to the pressure and hype of the game, before it had even begun!
Easily, the most hyped, most followed and most discussed match of the World Cup, you’d think. And it did live up to the hype and expectation, probably even surpassed it, because what unfolded was just pure, magical, absolutely amazing cricket. Isn’t that what we all want to see, at the end of the day?
I think everyone would’ve followed this match and already noted the result, but I think we won’t mind hearing the details again and again, given how the game unfolded. So, enough said. Let’s get on to the details of the match.
India won the toss and opted to bowl first. It was a good option to chase, because India had had problems defending totals in recent times and their strength was in their batting line-up. They got a good start as Pakistan were 32-2 at the end of the powerplay.
Both Babar (0 off 1) and Rizwan (4 off 12) were dismissed cheaply by Arshdeep Singh. Iftikhar and Shan Masood stabilized things in the middle overs as they took on the spinners. Axar had a bad day, as he conceded 21 in the only over he bowled.
Ashwin was decent, as he conceded 21 off 3 overs. Pakistan were in for a strong finish, when the Indian pacers, especially Hardik pegged things back with a few quick wickets. Shaheen Shah Afridi played a cameo, hitting 16 runs in 8 balls, before he fell to Bhuvneshwar.
India’s death bowling was once again in focus, as Pakistan went from 120-7 to 159-8 in the span of two to three overs.
The momentum swung like a pendulum in this innings, but Pakistan got a flourish at the end, meaning that they had momentum in their favour.
So, Pakistan set a target of 160, which was a decent total on a batting friendly pitch. Bowling was their strength as they had a solid attack consisting of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf and Muhammad Nawaz.
Batting second, India got off to a similar, if not worse, start, scoring 31-3 at the end of the first six overs.
Axar Patel was promoted but he departed soon too. At the halfway stage, India were struggling at 45-4. Kohli and Hardik were on the crease, the required rate was about 12 per over. India had a mountain to climb, and there were only 2 batters after the ones on the crease, so their stay was very crucial for the team.
Virat and Hardik took it slow at first, respecting good deliveries and taking ones and twos. The running between the wickets was wonderful to see, and I think it is something very underrated in T20 cricket, where boundaries are only considered important.
After laying a foundation, both of them started to hit a few boundaries, but it wasn’t enough. I guess the turning point, or game-changing moment was the 12th over, in which Muhammad Nawaz conceded 20 runs. He was hit for 3 sixes, 2 by Hardik and one by Kohli. It probably gave everyone hopes that the match still isn’t over, that India still have a chance, even if it’s a faint one.
But then, only 12 runs came in the 16th and 17th overs. The equation was still stiff – 48 needed from the last 3 overs. What happened from then on was just unreal! Have a look, and relive some enthralling cricket! So, this is what transpired –
Over 18 – 17 runs off Shaheen’s over, who had bowled a brilliant spell until that point. Kohli was now seeing the ball as a football, and hit 3 fours in this over!
31 needed off 2 overs. In comes Haris Rauf, who has picked up 2 wickets and conceded only 21 runs.
Over 19 – Rauf started off really well, conceding no boundaries in the first four balls. Things started to look good for Pakistan, but then Kohli took him on and hit 2 sixes off the last two balls, completely changing the course of the game!
16 needed off the last over. Now, everyone starts to look towards Kohli and Nawaz. All hopes pinned on them. They’re the ones who can take their teams over the line. The Pakistani fans and Indian fans have a serious look on their faces, the dugouts are tense.
Over 20 – the all important over
wicket, first ball!! Pandya swings and slices it to cover! Great start for Pakistan.
Dinesh Karthik on strike.
The next two balls go for just 3 runs. Good running by the two. There was speculation on whether the third ball of the over was a no ball, but it’s given as a fair delivery as DK came down the track.
Six off the fourth ball! It’s a no-ball as well, for height! 6 needed off 2 now.
The next ball is a wide, so the free-hit ball has to be re-bowled. 5 needed off 2.
The next ball, Kohli gets bowled, but he’s not out since it’s a free hit. The ball ricochets off the stumps. DK and Kohli run 3, and it’s given as 3 byes. It’s a controversial call, as there was a debate on whether the ball was dead after hitting the stumps. But it gets ruled in India’s favour. 2 needed off 2.
DK is out, stumped! 2 needed off 1 now. Thoughts of a super over come to mind.
Ashwin on strike.
The next ball is a wide, so scores are level! 1 needed off 1.
All the fielders brought in, so Ashwin lofts the ball and takes the single!
India win this nail-biter of a game!! Sunil Gavaskar’s celebration was the icing on the cake!
Phew! Writing this made me get goosebumps! What a game that was! Phenomenal!