DUBAI: Ironically, unpredictability has been Pakistan’s greatest virtue in big matches and big tournaments. On Sunday they had another unexpected player mohamed nawaz to surprise and stun India in the second rebound thriller between the two teams in this Asian Cup. Pakistan’s win by five wickets with one ball to spare left India vulnerable in the Super 4.
Chasing 182, the left arm spinner came out at bat at No. 4, after returning numbers of 1/25 with his left arm spin, in the ninth with the scoreboard showing 63/2. With Mohammad Rizwan pounding like a rock at the other end, Nawaz launched a brutal counter-attack on the Indian bowlers to score a 42 from 20 balls, hitting six boundaries and two sixes past the wicket, and put India on the back foot. He nullified India’s middle trump Yuzvendra Chahal, beating him for 1/43 in his four overs.
How it happened
Even though Rizwan fell for a 51-ball 71 to Pandya’s slower long-range ball after Nawaz went off in a similar fashion to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the Indian team cracked under the pressure. Arshdeep Singh dropped a keeper offered by Asif Ali on the third court of the 18th above.

Needing 26 from 12, Khushdil Shah and Asif found themselves cornered in India’s most experienced dressmaker, Bhuvneshwar, whose death bowling abilities were on display, to pick up 19 points on 19th. Arshdeep’s efforts to repair the lost hold were always going to be difficult with only seven in the bank.

Nawaz’s outstanding display put Virat Kohli’s return to form in the shadows. Kohli turned the clock back with 60 from 44. The magic form that slipped away from him in empty stadiums during the pandemic here in the United Arab Emirates in 2020, returned in front of a packed Dubai International Cricket Stadium against rivals the fiercer.
Kohli’s innings may not come across as the most stunning innings in T20 statistically, but his significance in the larger context is far greater than helping India post a 181/7 challenge. Perhaps he was crippled by the lack of middle order support that negated all the good work done by top three hitters Rohit Sharma, Rahul and Kohli. As the strong middle order of Suryakumar Yadav (13 out of 10), Rishabh Pant (14 out of 12), Hardik Pandya (0 out of 2) and Deepak Hooda (16 out of 14) crumbled, Kohli couldn’t. to start up. Hitting gaps and driving the field team crazy with his maverick-like running between the wickets has once again become his go-to strategy. That he only reached four limits and one in six said how well he maneuvered on the field. It was ironic that his innings ended as he tried to pinch a second run and a direct hit from Asif Ali found him slightly short of his crease.

Kohli took over once Rohit perished for 28 of 16 and Rahul lost Shadab Khan for 28 of 20. Kohli was never the quintessential T20 muscle player. Ironically, his strengths never depended on funky ramps or switch flicks. Sunday was vintage Kohli.
Kohli took off with a back kick midway through a Haris Rauf delivery launched at 151 mph and signaled he had rediscovered his imperious touch before the pandemic hit. And that nonchalant whipping off a Mohammad Hasnain thunderbolt for a six over the fence at half wicket screamed the Kohli mark.
Backed by an exceptional display in the opener, Pakistan’s fast-paced attack proved to amp up the heat with the ball. In turn, Rohit and Rahul reveled in the extra pace offered. The most notable feature of Sunday’s front three stick was the fact that every aggressive shot hit in front of the square, whether it was Rohit’s short arm shots above the center wicket or Rahul’s crisp punches on the 30 meter circle. The promised one-year cricket mark was finally delivered with the Indian captain and vice-captain opening the innings with 54 runs from 5.1 overs.
You could see he was in the area. Constantly talking to his partners in the middle order, gesturing what bowlers tried, and hitting his bat whenever his partner pushed the ball away to the boundary. And when he sprinted towards the end of danger as Deepak Hooda was already saying in round two, you knew Kohli was serious.



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