The early exit of the Indian team from the Asia Cup was very much on the cards even after the display against the host nation, Bangladesh. It is not a case of being wise in hindsight but the lack of firepower in the bowling attack was very much in evidence in that game. To make matters worse, the batting never looked like compensating the weakness in the bowling department. The fact that Tendulkar, basically a part timer, had to bowl the entire quota of overs is a reflection of the state of affairs.
Coming back to the game against Pakistan, it was very obvious that the side that batted better would emerge victorious, as the pitch was flat. Pakistan, the team very much in touch, won the toss and the early overs indicated the course the game was bound to take. Anwar, the seasoned campaigner along with the talented Imran Nazir took off to a mini flier of a start and Ganguly's problems carried on till the end. The Indians were further handicapped as Joshi and Chopra were unfit. The introduction of Kumble brought back the Indians into the game as he effected quick dismissals. Agarkar, by dismissing Inzamam provided a big opening to run through the Pakistani line up.
It was at this stage that the indomitable fighter, Moin Khan, joined Youhana. He is one of those rare cricketers who excel in tight situations. Khan, who likes to dominate the bowling, was not going to let go of the clueless Indian attack. Youhana, whose potential was evident in his first outing in international cricket, kept one end going and played an innings with great common sense. The two consolidated the innings and the significant aspect was that they did not allow the run rate to drop. Eventually Agarkar broke the partnership when he had Moin Khan caught at the wicket.
Youhana at the other end displayed the kind of maturity that would have made Javed Miandad proud. He paced his innings with precision and at no stage did he look ruffled. The highlight of his partnership with Razzaq was the running between the wickets. The Indians were made to look ragged but the placement of Youhana in his strokes into the outfield was impeccable. His second fifty came in a jiffy and in the later stages he had decided to be impish enough to toy with the Indian bowlers. His six off the last ball of the innings is what normally dreams are made off. By the time the Pakistani innings concluded, the writing was on the wall. Another aspect that the Indians continue messing up is not bowling the overs within the specified time limit.
Not many would have fancied the Indians to get anywhere close to the Pakistani score and the early loss of Ganguly confirmed the inevitable. The Pakistani bowlers showed that there was some bounce to be had, as they kept the Indian batsmen on the back foot by digging the ball just short of a length. By the time the field restrictions were off, the Indians had already lost their top order batsmen and the opportunistic pair of Jadeja and Robin Singh was left to make a match out of it.
Jadeja tried his best by striking a few lusty blows but in the end the Pakistani total was beyond the reach of the Indians. The Indians cannot give any excuses, as they were totally outplayed in all departments of the game. Going by the fitness or lack of it and the display put up by the Indians in the Asia Cup, one wonders as to what exactly was done in the preparatory camp before their departure.