Shaheen says partnerships key after Pakistan pacers rattle India in Asia Cup clash

Published September 3, 2023
Shaheen Shah Afridi is pictured talking about the Asia Cup clash between Pakistan and India on Saturday. — Screenshot courtesy PCB video
Shaheen Shah Afridi is pictured talking about the Asia Cup clash between Pakistan and India on Saturday. — Screenshot courtesy PCB video

Pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi said bowling in partnerships was the key to rattling India’s batting in the blockbuster Asia Cup clash abandoned because of rain.

The left-arm fast bowler took four wickets, including the prize top-order dismissals of India captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, as Pakistan gained a psychological edge over their great rivals, who had elected to bat first in Kandy on Saturday.

The two teams could potentially clash twice more in the Asia Cup if both reach the final, ahead of a highly anticipated 50-over World Cup clash in Ahmedabad next month.

Shaheen, who finished with 4-35, and fellow quick Haris Rauf reduced India to 66-4 before a fightback by Ishan Kishan, who made 82, and Hardik Pandya (87) lifted India to 266 all out.

New-ball-partner Naseem Shah did not get his first wicket until the 45th over but then struck twice more to wrap up the India innings in 48.5 overs.

Rain meant Pakistan were unable to bat and the points shared.

It was enough to put Pakistan into the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and India will join them if they avoid defeat to Nepal at the same ground on Monday.

“Mickey (Arthur) always says ‘fast bowlers win you tournaments’ and we always try to bowl in partnerships,” said Shaheen of the national team director in a video chat on the Pakistan Cricket Board’s social media.

He said the role of Haris Rauf, the third member of a daunting pace attack, was “to instil fear in the opposition batsmen with pace and bouncers, while Naseem and I rely on swing”.

Shaheen set up Rohit, on 11, with two outswingers and brought the next back in to smash the off stump of the Indian captain.

Kohli was the next to go on four as he chopped on a length delivery outside the off stump from Shaheen.

“Virat is the backbone of the Indian team and getting his wicket was crucial,” said Shaheen, who was confident Pakistan could have won had the weather not intervened.

“We had the result in our hands. But overall the team performance in one innings was very good.”

Former speedster Shoaib Akhtar praised Shaheen on his opening spell.

“I don’t think Rohit is able to read or understand Shaheen at all,” Akhtar said on his official YouTube channel.

“The visual of Rohit Sharma being beaten like this was not good, he is a far better player than this,” he said.

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