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Stylish Pakistan break India hoodoo in T20 World Cup

Dubai, 24 October 2021: A calm, composed, calculated, methodical and clinical Pakistan ended the five-match losing streak against India in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup when they won their opening Group-2 fixture by a whopping 10-wicket margin in front of a capacity Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

The 2009 champions controlled the game from the very start when they restricted the over-hyped and rated India batting to 151 for seven in 20 overs on a placid track with player of the match Shaheen Shah Afridi recording figures of 4-0-31-3, Hasan Ali backing with two for 44 and, Shadab Khan and Haris Rauf conceding 22 and 25 runs, respectively while picking up a wicket each.

In the 152-run victory chase, the most successful T20I pair of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam made a mockery of India bowling by punishing them to all parts of the park and making the spectators also run for cover as they overhauled the target without getting separated and with 13 balls to spare.

Mohammad Rizwan was at his brilliant best, slapping six fours and three sixes in a 55-ball 79, while Babar Azam was elegant and classical while scoring 68 off 52 balls with six fours and two sixes.

On way to their convincing, thumping and one-sided victory, Pakistan also proved their superiority and understanding of the Dubai International Stadium, a venue on which they had won 14 out of 25 T20I before this fixture.

In the player to play battle, Babar Azam outshone and outclassed Virat Kohli to reconfirm his status as the best and greatest batter of this era, while also ensuring his 11-match unbeaten record in the UAE as a T20I player remained intact.

Earlier, Babar Azam won the all-important toss and had little hesitation in putting India into bat. And his decision was immediately vindicated when Shaheen Shah Afridi trapped Rohit Sharma on the fourth ball of the innings to hand the prolific India opener a first-ball duck.

Shaheen then cleaned up KL Rahul (three) with a peach off a delivery at the beginning of his second over as India slipped to six for two, which became 31 for three in the sixth over when Hasan Ali had Suryakumar Yadav smartly caught at the wicket by Mohammad Rizwan.

The procession was halted by Kohli and Rishabh Pant when the two batters got involved in a rescue act with a rare aggressive stroke against a disciplined Pakistan bowling that was backed up by agile and smart fielding.

Pant played a couple of back to back delightful one-handed sixes off Hasan Ali before Shadab Khan had the last laugh when the left-hander was deceived by a wrong-un for the bowler to catch a skier off his own bowling. Pant scored a 30-ball 39 that also included two fours as he added 53 runs for the fourth wicket with Kohli.

With India struggling at 84 for four in 12.2 overs, Kohli took charge and played some signature shots in an effort to dominate the Pakistan bowling that stuck to its plans barring a mistake here and there.

The India captain dominated a 41-run fifth wicket partnership with Ravindra Jadeja (13 off 13) but perished to Shaheen Shah Afridi four balls after reaching his half-century off 45 balls with four fours and a six for a well constructed 57 as India slipped to 133 for six in 18.4 overs.

The only time Pakistan looked sloppy in the field was in the 18th and 19th overs when they went for 13 and 17 runs, respectively, that helped India to finish at 151 for seven after being 114 for four at the end of 17 overs.

Scores in brief

India 151-7, 20 overs (Virat Kohli 57, Rishabh Pant 37, Shaheen Shah Afridi 3-31, Hasan Ali 2-44, Shadab Khan 1-22, Haris Rauf 1-25)

Pakistan 152-0, 17.5 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 79 not out, Babar Azam 68 not out)

Player of the match – Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pakistan)

Next match:

26 Oct - Vs New Zealand, Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Match begins 7PKT