Asia Cup: With an all-round performance India registers emphatic eight-wicket victory against arch-rival Pakistan

Dubai: Taking a revenge of ICC Champions Trophy loss, Indian cricket team on Wednesday registered an emphatic eight-wicket victory against arch-rival Pakistan in the marquee Asia Cup group clash in an atmospheric Dubai International Stadium.

India produced an all-round performance against Pakistan. Indian bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Kedar Jadhav, in particular, were simply too hot for Pakistan’s batsmen to handle, despite a middle-order rebuild from Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik after Kumar had blasted out Pakistan’s openers. While a half-century from skipper Rohit Sharma helped India make light work of Pakistan’s 162, with India’s top four all having joy in their pursuit.

After winning the toss, Pakistan’s innings started poorly, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar removing both Imam ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman cheaply, with the latter top-edging an expansive pull-shot after the previous maiden over from Jasprit Bumrah had applied the breaks.

But the experienced middle-order of Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik propelled Pakistan out of a sticky situation, but a combination of the fear of losing more top-order wickets and tight India bowling meant Pakistan only managed 25 from the first ten overs. Fortunately, after 13 overs they had doubled their score, with Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal unable to match the opening bowlers for economy.

India was no longer getting the rub of the green as the Pakistan duo racked up their fifty partnership, Dhoni spurned a difficult caught behind off Malik, and Pandya was stretchered off the field with what the BCCI later confirmed was an “acute lower back injury”.

Azam’s 47 was then beaten all ends up by a Kuldeep Yadav wrong’un that took out off-stump to make it 85/3 before Sarfraz Ahmed was caught in the deep off the bowling of Kedar Jadhav.

Shortly after Pakistan reached three figures, Malik’s 43 departed courtesy of a direct hit run out by Ambati Rayudu. Asif Ali and Shadab Khan were then removed in quick fashion as they were stumped and caught behind respectively off the bowling of the impressive Jadhav who took 3 wickets as Pakistan slumped to 125/7.

Faheem Ashraf made 21 runs and Mohammad Amir’s 18 runs offered a mini-revival but were unable to release the shackles. The superb Bumrah and Kumar returned to finish off the job as Pakistan were bowled out for a below-par 162.

A leisurely start from Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma went up a notch in the eighth over when the latter smashed a six over fine-leg before a leg-side flick for four and another maximum through straight mid-wicket off a free ball. The fifty partnership was reached during the next over as India looked in total command.

Hasan Ali was greeted into the attack with a six from Dhawan but Rohit fell to a Shadab Khan googly shortly after reaching his 50. It was a beautiful delivery, but with Rohit’s flurry contributing by far the best strike-rate of the match at 133.33, the damage had largely been done.

Pakistan chopped and changed. Ashraf removed Dhawan soon after India surpassed the hundred-mark with the opener four runs short of his half-century when a flashy cut was grabbed at backward point. It proved to be Pakistan’s last scalp, with their bowlers failing to provide enough tricks to cause India to sweat during a low run-chase.

Ambati Rayudu’s 31 and Dinesh Karthik’s 31 comfortably got India over the finish line with 21 overs to spare to bring home an impressive India victory, which will increase their confidence levels as they look to go all the way in this tournament.

Both teams had won their opening games against Hong Kong, which meant that the two Asia Cup heavyweights had already secured a Super Four spot.

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