DUBAI: Captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan smashed unbeaten half-centuries as Pakistan crushed India by 10 wickets to register a historic first win over their arch-rivals across all ICC World Cup editions on Sunday.
Chasing 152 for victory the Super 12 clash of the T20 World Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Babar (68) and Rizwan (79) took apart the Indian bowling as they steered their team home with 13 balls to spare.
Left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi set up victory — their first over their neighbours in six attempts in the tournament — with figures of 3-31 that restricted India to 151-7 despite a valiant 57 from skipper Virat Kohli.
“This is the first time we’ve beaten India and I feel proud,” said Shaheen, who was declared player-of-the-match. “I knew it would be good for us if I got early wickets and that worked out. My idea was to get as much swing as possible.
“You don’t get a lot here, but I wanted to get those breakthroughs and gave it 100 percent. In my opinion the new ball was difficult to play, so credit goes to Babar and Rizwan.”
In the immediate aftermath of the victory, celebratory gunfire erupted in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
Pakistan not only became just the fourth team to win a T20 World Cup game by 10 wickets — after Australia, South Africa and Oman — but this was the first occasion in that they won by such a margin, providing the 29th instance of a side winning without losing any wicket.
Babar and Rizwan went on the attack from the start with boundaries inside the Powerplay — the first six overs when only two fielders are allowed outside the inner circle — to set the tone for their chase.
The dew did not help the Indian bowlers who regularly wiped the moisture off the ball with their towels while the openers kept the score ticking and got the occasional fours and sixes.
The batting pair kept up the charge as Babar reached his fifty with a six off spinner Varun Chakravarthy to get the Pakistan supporters dancing with joy.
Rizwan raised his fifty with a boundary off pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah and then raced past his captain, hitting six fours and three sixes in his 55-ball knock.
Babar hit the winning runs to turn a new page in the Pakistan-India cricketing rivalry.
“We executed our plans well and the early wickets were very helpful. Shaheen’s wickets gave us a lot of confidence and the spinners dominated as well,” an elated Babar said afterwards. “The plan with Rizwan is always to keep it simple. We tried to get deep in the crease and from about the 8th over the dew came in and the ball came on nicely.
“This is just the start, we have confidence to build on now. It will remain match by match for us. The pressure on us wasn’t that much — we weren’t thinking of the record against India at all. I only wanted to back all our players who’ve been preparing well.
“When you play tournaments before a big World Cup, it helps and our players came in with a lot of confidence because of that,” Babar added.
Kohli, meanwhile, conceded India were outplayed but maintained his side would bounce back.
“We did not execute the things that we wanted to but credit is certainly due — they [Pakistan] outplayed us tonight,” admitted Kohli. “They were very professional with the bat as well but we’re certainly not a team that presses the panic button, it’s the start of the tournament, not the end.”
Earlier Shaheen returned figures of 3-31 after a lethal first spell to hurt India who elected to field first in the Super 12s encounter watched by 20,000 in the stadium and a global TV audience of hundreds of millions of fans.
Kohli scored his 29th T20 fifty to help the team rebuild before being caught behind off Afridi as Pakistan dismissed the star batsman for the first time in a T20 World Cup game.
Shaheen struck the first blow with an express delivery that swung in to trap Rohit Sharma lbw for a first ball duck.
Kohli walked in amid raucous applause from the Indian fans who were soon silenced by another ripper from Afridi in his second over.
The 1.98-metre bowler got K.L. Rahul with a delivery that came in sharply to take the opening batter’s thigh pad and rattle the stumps.
Kohli and new batter, Suryakumar Yadav attempted to hit back with some positive shots as they smashed Afridi for a six each.
Wicket-keeper Rizwan then pulled off a superb diving catch to cut short Yadav’s stay at the wicket with quick bowler Hasan Ali striking in his first over. Yadav made 11.
Rishabh Pant joined Kohli in the middle and the left-right batting pair rebuilt the innings and took India to 60-3 at the end of 10 overs.
Pant, a wicket-keeper/batter who survived a close caught behind call off one of his attempted reverse sweeps, kept up the charge with adventurous strokeplay.
He hit Hasan for two successive sixes but finally fell to Shadab Khan’s leg spin in the next over, top-edging a ball that went high and into the hands of the bowler.
Pant made 39 off 30 balls. Kohli stood firm to soak up the pressure to get to his 50 in 45 balls.
K.L. Rahul b Shaheen3
R.G. Sharma lbw b Shaheen0
V. Kohli c Rizwan b Shaheen57
S.A. Yadav c Rizwan b Hasan11
R.R. Pant c and Shadab39
R.A. Jadeja c sub b Hasan13
H.H. Pandya c Babar b Haris11
B. Kumar not out5
Mohammed Shami not out0
EXTRAS (B-6, LB-1, W-4, NB-1)12
TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs)151
FALL OF WKTS: 1-1 (Sharma, 0.4 ov), 2-6 (Rahul, 2.1 ov), 3-31 (Yadav, 5.4 ov), 4-84 (Pant, 12.2 ov), 5-125 (Jadeja, 17.5 ov), 6-133 (Kohli, 18.4 ov), 7-146 (Pandya, 19.3 ov).
DID NOT BAT: J.J. Bumrah, V. Chakravarthy.
BOWLING: Shaheen Shah Afridi 4-0-31-3 (1nb, 1w); Imad Wasim 2-0-10-0; Hasan Ali 4-0-44-2; Shadab Khan 4-0-22-1 (1w); Mohammad Hafeez 2-0-12-0; Haris Rauf 4-0-25-1 (2w).
Mohammad Rizwan not out79
Babar Azam not out68
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-4)5
TOTAL (for no wkt, 17.5 overs)152
DID NOT BAT: Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf.
BOWLING: Kumar 3-0-25-0 (3w); Mohammed Shami 3.5-0-43-0; Bumrah 3-0-22-0; Chakravarthy 4-0-33-0 (1w); Jadeja 4-0-28-0.
RESULT: Pakistan won by 10 wickets.
UMPIRES: M. Erasmus (South Africa) and C.B. Gaffaney (New Zealand).
TV UMPIRE: R.K. Illingworth (England).
MATCH REFEREE: D.C. Boon (Australia).
PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Shaheen Shah Afridi (Pakistan).
Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2021