Pakistan turn the table with resounding T20 World Cup victory over India | T20 World Cup 2021

It went on for 29 years, but when Pakistan finally broke the World Cup shackles that India had firmly placed them in, it did so in the most adamant way possible. The game lasted 37.5 overs but in reality the contest was decided in 19 balls.

Shaheen Afridi had his plans in place, his skills sharp and honed to drop not so much cricket balls as precisely guided missiles that produced shock and awe.

The fourth ball of the innings, the first that Rohit Sharma faced, swung to the beat, moving late and the batsman was fatally in front of the stumps when the back pad was tackled.

There was really little Rohit could do about the ball. But the story was a little different for KL Rahul, who fashioned a similarly designed delivery upside down from the first ball to the third and passed the ball over the pad and stumps to work.

Six on two, India was looking into the barrel and luckily for them, Virat Kohli was in no mood to give up. Striking outside his crease and canceling the swing, Kohli signaled his intention by muscling Afridi in the stands for a long time.

Having lost his most trusted partners, Kohli shifted gears, committing to playing traditional cricket strokes, pushing back just enough to keep India in the chase.

Quick guide

Charith Asalanka crushes Sri Lanka ahead of Bangladesh

Spectacle

Charith Asalanka reached an unbeaten score of 80 to lead Sri Lanka to a five-wicket victory over Bangladesh in their T20 Super 12 World Cup opener in Sharjah. Mushfiqur Rahim’s unbeaten 57 helped Bangladesh, put on the line after Sri Lanka won the draw, to score 171 for four in the Group 1 encounter with opener Mohammad Naim contributing 62.

However, Asalanka, who hit five sixes and five fours on 49 balls, led the Sri Lankans to victory with seven balls remaining, ably helped by Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who made 53 out of 31 deliveries.

The Sri Lankan chase was aided by two catches abandoned by Bangladesh opener Liton Das, who crucially reversed the chances offered by Rajapaksa and Asalanka. PA Media

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Adding 53 with Rishabh Pant, Kohli ensured hope floated for India, and when he was finally sacked, the sixth wicket of the innings, he had done enough to bring India to 151 for seven.

While it certainly missed a few points, given the occasion, scene, and quality of Pakistani bowling that day, it was the best India could do, and at least gave his bowlers a chance to fight. In boxing lingo, however, Indian bowlers just couldn’t land a single punch when it was their turn.

If Afridi was the sharp end of the spear, Babar Azam was the shield. Bursting with class from the first ball he placed, Azam set the tone with a rear-foot punch through the cover that should be immortalized in bronze.

Pakistani Babar Azam on his way to an unbeaten 68. Photograph: Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters

Azam’s footwork was a manual, his timing impeccable, and his placement cruelly efficient. There was nothing the Indian bowlers could produce that troubled him as he headed for an undefeated 68.

While Azam was the man who controlled the tempo of the chase, his partner, Mohammad Rizwan, was the perfect foil. Rizwan took just enough chances to get the bowlers out of the game, and most importantly had a perfect understanding with his captain. The couple barely had to call – not that they could have gotten along in a hectic stadium – when they morphed into two.

One look from Azam would be enough for Rizwan to engage in the race and, when he decided to be cheeky, the ball screamed in the middle of the bat. Rizwan finished with a 78 of 55 balls, sealing Pakistan’s perfect 10 wicket victory.

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“We had no luck. They were very professional. We did our best, we tried to put pressure on them, but there is no shame in accepting that we have been dominated, outclassed, ”Kohli said. “They didn’t let us into the game at any time. Pakistan deserves credit for finishing the match the way it did.

Azam was understandably proud that Pakistan had finally beaten India in a World Cup match. “This is just the start, we are confident to continue now,” he said. “It will remain game by game for us. The pressure on us wasn’t that great – we weren’t thinking about the record against India at all.


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