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3rd Match, Group A (D/N), Pallekele, September 02, 2023, Asia Cup
(48.5/50 ov) 266

No result


Pakistan through to Super Fours after washout

Afridi, Naseem and Rauf shared ten wickets to dismiss India for 266 before rain ruined the chase

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
India 266 all out (Hardik 87, Kishan 82, Shaheen 4-35) vs Pakistan - match abandoned
The first ODI between India and Pakistan since the last World Cup four years ago ended in a no-result but not before both the teams teased a great contest in the one innings possible. As a result of the washout, Pakistan's progress to the Super Fours was confirmed.
The Pakistan fast bowlers lived up to their billing, running through India's top order in helpful conditions, but Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya rescued India from 66 for 4 with reassuring 80s only for the fast bowlers to come back and keep them down to 266 after they had looked good to go beyond 300 during the 138-run fifth-wicket stand.
Having already lost 53 minutes to two rain breaks during the first innings, any more rain was going to result in loss of overs. As it tends to happen with such scores, the adjusted DLS targets appear to favour the defending side for small stoppages and then the chasing side as the duration of the match gets closer to 20 overs.
After the uneasy wait for the rain to stop, it turned out neither side needed worry because the rain had persisted long enough for both sides to walk away with the noble draw.
There was enough cricket to talk about and marvel at, though. Curiously both sides wanted to bat first, and India happened to be the one to get into the line of fire. Having been under covers, the surface was two-paced and offered appreciable seam movement.
It took one rain break, though, for Pakistan to gather themselves and start hitting the deck instead of looking for swing in the air. After that rain break during the fifth over, Shaheen Shah Afridi began to look unplayable. He just kept hitting the good length at high pace, and the ball kept nipping each way. Rohit Sharma, who had got off to a decent start, caught the worst of it when two balls nipped away to beat his outside edge and the third seamed back in to bowl him tip of off. To the naked eye, there didn't seem to be any change in the release.
Virat Kohli announced himself with a sensational cover-drive on the up, but soon the slowness from the surface did him in as he looked to run Afridi down to third. The returning Shreyas Iyer made an even more impressive start to his innings, but then he smacked a pull off Haris Rauf straight into the hands of square midwicket. It took a sharp catch from Fakhar Zaman.
All during this mayhem, it was clear India wanted to counterattack at all times. Only Shubman Gill stayed away from playing a shot in anger. After a scratchy innings, he played on a full ball that seamed away at Rauf's pace. You can't do much when that happens.
By that time, Kishan had already made his way to 15 off 13 including an upper-cut six off Rauf. Pandya, too, hit the first ball he played for four. It was not reckless hitting, but it was apparent India didn't want to go into their shell even at four down and with a long tail.
Once the three first bowlers were done, a weakness in the Pakistan squad began to show up. Both their allrounders and all their part-time bowlers are spinners. Most sides aim for three strike bowlers and one allrounder who can bowl seam. In the middle overs, in conditions that called for more pace, Pakistan didn't have the services of a fourth quick.
Babar Azam eschewed the adventure of continuing on with a fast bowler for too long in search of wickets and then risk leaving himself a spinner to bowl at death. It was a conservative call, and the two batters scored easily off spin, especially with Shadab Khan missing his length often.
As the innings approached the 40th over, both the batters began to put pressure back on the bowlers, taking advantage of the extra fielder inside the circle. Eventually, Pakistan had to go back to Rauf. Kishan, nearing a century but also struggling with what looked like a cramp, perhaps began to play too many shots lest his running slow down the innings. One of them flew off the toe end to end his knock at 82 off 81. However, it was not before Kishan presented himself as a candidate in the middle order even if KL Rahul was fit.
Pandya displayed his batting skill as reminder of the time when he was considered a lock in the middle order even if not fit enough to bowl. Without taking any risks, he scored his first 30 at a run a ball before falling second fiddle to Kishan. However, towards the end he accelerated, scoring 31 off the last 20 balls he faced. He fell short of a century by 13 runs, having been deceived by an Afridi slower ball.
Naseem Shah, who was arguably the best bowler without wickets to show for until then, took out the last three wickets to restrict India.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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