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Monday, 3 March 2014

Report: India vs Pakistan – Asia Cup 2014


Shahid Afridi (34 off 18) played a blinder of a knock to pull off a thrilling victory against India in what was a virtual semi-final in the 2014 Asia Cup. The charismatic cricketer sealed a tense chase of 246 with consecutive sixes off R Ashwin to give his team a one-wicket win.  (Also Read: Stats Highlights: India vs Pakistan – Asia Cup 2014)

With Pakistan needing 43 runs off five overs, the match hung on tenterhooks. To turn up the excitement level even further, Shahid Afridi walked into the middle. He began by running his partner (Sohaib Maqsood) out and then concentrated on sending the ball out of the boundary.

A four and a six in the 46th over, off Jadeja swung the momentum in Pakistan’s favour. In the next, the one bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Afridi and Umar Gul eased the target by smacking a four and a six respectively. In the last three, Pakistan needed 17.

Pakistan’s chase began on the perfect note with the openers firing straight away. Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad put on 71 in 11 overs before R Ashwin broke the stand with the former’s wicket. From looking in complete control of the match, Pakistan soon themselves in a spot of bother, thanks to the comeback man, Amit Mishra.

Playing his first international match since October 2013, the leg-spinner seized the opportunity gladly, emerging India’s most effective bowler in the match. He bowled with terrific control, while making subtle change in length. Mishra bowled a lot slower through the air, making it difficult to score runs off him on the already slow wicket. His first victim was Shehzad, who lobbed the ball to the midwicket fielder in an attempt to pull a short ball. Umar Akmal was enticed with a flighted ball and caught at cover. Pakistan’s cause was affected heavily when Misbah-Ul-Haq, for the second time in a row, was run out, for 1. 

From 113 for 4, Hafeez and Sohaib Maqsood took Pakistan to the threshold of victory with an 87-run partnership. Hafeez anchored the innings with characteristic calmness while enjoying fine support from Maqsood. Just when it looked like the duo was set to take Pakistan home, the match changed again when Ashwin got rid of Hafeez. Soon, a mix-up between the wickets with Shahid Afridi sent Maqsood back into the hut.
Earlier, after being put in to bat by Pakistan, India lost Shikhar Dhawan early, as he went was adjudged lbw in an attempt to flick Mohammad Hafeez. Pakistan’s surprising ploy to open the bowling with the off-spinner had worked.

Rohit Sharma, who has been out of touch of late, often giving the impression of struggling to middle the ball in the initial part of his innings, came with the intent to hit himself back among runs, as was indicated by the straight four he hit Hafeez for in the third over. In the next, when Umar Gul bowled one short, Rohit pulled him away for a six and repeated it against Junaid Khan a few balls later. The opener took a special liking for Junaid, who was carted for four fours and a six.

Rohit looked confident at 56 (off 58 balls) when a mistimed pull was taken well by Hafeez. He thus became debutant, Mohammad Talha’s maiden ODI wicket.

It was a rare failure for Virat Kohli, who departed in the 10th over, playing a short and wide ball fro Gul straight into the hands of the keeper. Ajinkya Rahane’s stay at the wicket was a brief one as an attempted flick of the wrist went in the hands of the midwicket fielder.

With India at 103 for 4, Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik came together at the crease. A few run-out scares aside, the two steadied the Indian innings to a certain extent, putting up a half-century partnership. Rayudu batted well for his 58 (off 62 balls), before falling to Saeed Ajmal.

Ravindra Jadeja manned the lower-order with an unbeaten 52 as India managed to get close to the 250-run mark.

Ajmal returned to dismiss Ashwin and Shami, hence finishing with 3 for 40. Talha and Hafeez scalped two each while Gul took a solitary wicket.

Man of the Match: Mohammad Hafeez for his match-winning 75 off 117 balls.

  • Misbah ul-Haq: "It was a really important win for us and I was happy. The way we played today after being under pressure was really good. We know that Afridi is the kind of player that can hit 2 or 3 sixes in a row. Not thinking about the final. I think the next game is important, and we have to think about that."

  • Kohli: "The idea was to not let the batsmen get used to one bowler. I have to commend the balls. Mishra was getting the ball to turn a bit. It was just about rotating the bowlers in the right way and applying pressure. You have to say we were a few short. The wicket was slow in the beginning, but got better as the game went on. I'm really proud of the way the guys played. They've showed a lot of character."

  • source: bcci.tv

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