Asia cup (cricket) and India
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
India are the most successful team in the Asia Cup history, having won the tournament seven times (six ODIs and one T20I) since the inaugural edition in 1984.
This season, Afghanistan and Bangladesh could prove to be tough contenders as they have the calibre to turn the game at any point. Given that Bangladesh have come quite close of the title couple of times in the recent past, it might be possible to see them putting in some top-notch performances to clinch a maiden title.
In 2016, International Cricket Council (ICC) had decided that the Asia Cup would be played on a rotational basis between ODIs and T20Is. Thus, 2016 marked the first season of Asia Cup in the shortest format and this year again it would be played as a 20-over game.
Asia Cup has always been one of the most premier tournaments in cricket world and it always drives excitement to know who will lift the trophy. Here’s a look at the winners of the Asia Cup since inaugural season in 1984.
The first edition of the Asia Cup was hosted UAE in 1984 with just three teams: India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. India had faced Sri Lanka in the final match and under Sunil Gavaskar’s leadership, the team lifted the inaugural trophy. India dominated the 1984 tournament as a whole as they topped the points table, winning both their matches, securing eight points and then being crowned as champions. Indian cricketer Surinder Khanna was the leading run-scorer in the tournament, with 107 runs and had won the Player of the Tournament award.
1986: Sri Lanka
The second edition of the Asia Cup took place in Sri Lanka in 1986. India did not participate in the tournament to mark their displeasure with Sri Lanka. In 1985, India played a controversial series with Sri Lanka and further due to strained cricketing relations with the Lankans, India had pulled out their name from the tournament. In India’s absence, the hosts participated with Pakistan and Bangladesh. Under Duleep Mendis’ leadership, Sri Lanka defeated Pakistan by five wickets in the finals and lifted the trophy. Arjuna Ranatunga, was the leading run-scorer of the tournament and got awarded with the Player of the tournament.
After missing the 1986 tournament, India came back a bang in 1988 edition held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Men in Blue defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets wherein Arshad Ayub bowled India to victory. Ayub took nine wickets in the final match and took Dilip Vengsarkar-led Indian team to finish line. Navjot Singh Sidhu’s innings was one of the finest from the tournament that bagged him Player of the tournament award.
India hosted the 1990-91 Asia Cup and also became the winners of the tournament for the third time. In this edition, Pakistan had pulled out of the tournament due to soured political relations with India. The hosts won their second consecutive title after defeating Sri Lanka by seven wickets in the finals at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. From the tournament, Mohammad Azharuddin’s leadership along with Kapil Dev’s bowling became the biggest talking points. Dev displayed incredible bowling skills as he became the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with nine wickets.
In 1995, India made a hat-trick of titles by winning the Asia Cup. The tournament was ideally supposed to be in 1993, however, was cancelled due to strained political relations between India and Pakistan. Azharuddin again showcased his prowess as the captain of the Indian team and defeated Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the finals. It was India’s fourth Asia Cup title.
1997: Sri Lanka
In 1997, Asia Cup returned to Sri Lanka and the hosts won the trophy for the second time under the captaincy of Arjuna Ranatunga. The Lankans defeated the defending champions India by eight wickets in the finals at the R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo. Ranatunga played captain’s knock throughout the tournament as he ended the tournament with a maximum of 272 runs, and won the Player of the tournament.
Entering into a new decade, the Asia Cup also got Pakistan as a new title winner. Pakistan won their maiden Asia Cup after they defeated Sri Lanka by 39 runs in the final under Moin Khan’s leadership at the Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka. Pakistan team had shown an all-around performance in the tournament as Yousuf Youhana became the leading run-scorer with 295 runs and Abdul Razzaq became the leading wicket-taker.
2004: Sri Lanka
Asia Cup 2004 was quite different from the previous editions as for the first time, a total of six teams participated in the tournament. Along with the leading Asian nations (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka), the UAE and Hong Kong were also added in the game. Marvan Atapattu leadership took Sri Lanka to victory for the third time as they defeated India in the finals by 25 runs at the R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo.
2008: Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka defended their Asia Cup title in 2008 under the captaincy of Mahela Jayawardene. They again defeated India in the finals, this time by 100 runs at the National Stadium, Karachi, Pakistan. Ajantha Mendis won the Player of the Tournament as he took 17 wickets, while Sanath Jayasuriya scored 378 runs and was the leading run-scorer.
Team India clinched their fifth Asia Cup title in 2010 under the leadership of captain cool, MS Dhoni. They finished second in the points table with nine points and in the finals, defeated the hosts Sri Lanka by 81 runs. Dinesh Karthik was the main architect of the victory as he smashed 66 runs in the finale at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, Dambulla.
Asia Cup 2012 is one of the most memorable seasons ever as Pakistan snatched the match from jaws of Bangladesh lions at the Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium, Mirpur Thana. Bangladesh were just about to clinch their maiden title when they restricted Pakistan on 236/9 in 50 overs. Tamim Iqbal (60) and Shakib Al Hasan (68) almost took Bangladesh to finish line but fell short of two runs. As a result, Pakistan won their second Asia Cup title under the leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq wherein Pakistani pacer Umar Gul became the most successful bowler with nine wickets.
2014: Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan skipper Angelo Mathews won the fifth Asia Cup title for the country in 2014. They defeated Pakistan by five wickets in the finals at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur. Lasith Malinga was top-notch throughout the tournament and especially in the finals as he took five wicket haul to stop Pakistan on 260/5. The Lankans easily chased down the target and lifted the trophy. Lahiru Thirimanne was the highest run-scorer of the tournament with 279 runs and for his excellence, he got awarded with Player of the Tournament.
MS Dhoni-led India won the first-ever T20I version of Asia Cup in 2016. It was Dhoni’s second Asia Cup victory as a captain. Team India defeated Bangladesh in a one-sided match by eight wickets in the finals at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Mirpur, Dhaka. With seven balls to spare, India comfortably won the match and bagged their sixth Asia Cup title since the inaugural season.
In 2018, India defended their Asia Cup title continuing their consistency and brilliant run in the tournament. It looked like a replica of 2016 season as India faced Bangladesh yet again in the finals but in a 50-over format. Rohit Sharma and team defeated Bangladesh by three wickets at the Dubai International Stadium. In a close clash, Bangladesh were quite hopeful of clinching their maiden title but India chased down the 223-run target on the last ball and registered their name in record books as they lifted the Asia Cup trophy for the seventh time.
2022: The Continental Event Returns
Asia Cup was scheduled in 2020 but due to Covid-19 pandemic, it was postponed to 2021 and then deferred till 2023. In October 2021, it was decided that Pakistan would host the tournament in 2023, while Sri Lanka will take charge of the 2022 edition. But, due to economic crisis in Sri Lanka, the tournament shifted to UAE. The Asia Cup 2022 finale will be played on September 11 and while India will be entering the tournament as favourites, it is to be seen whether Men in Blue add another feather to their cap or will the tournament see new title winners.
Afghanistan’s 91-run win over Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan newspapers and fans lambasted the national cricket team Tuesday after the former champions were dumped out of the Asia Cup by up-and-coming Afghanistan.
“The flop of Asia,” ran the private Daily Mirror’sheadline,while the state-run Daily News said oneday cricket had hit a “nadir”. The Island daily lamented the “sad night for Sri Lankan cricket”.
Afghanistan demonstrated their rise in international cricket with their 91-run win over Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on Monday. Sri Lanka needed to win the Group B match to stay in the tournament but were outwitted by Afghanistan who put up a fighting total of 249 all out at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Sri Lanka, who now have lost 30 of their 40 matches since January 2017, had lost to Bangladesh by 137 runs in Dubai on Saturday at the opening match of the tournament. The Mirror saidthe performance did not augur well for the World Cup in England and Wales next year.
“Sri Lanka now require a great deal of soul-searching to be a competitive outfit in white-ball cricket before the 1996 World Champions become a laughing stock in the world — if they aren’t that already,” the Mirror said.
Disappointed Sri Lankan fans took to social media to went their anger, with many memes ridiculing the national team. “We could have stayed in the Asia Cup at least till India played its first match,” said one social media user.
India’s first game, against Hong Kong, was scheduled for later on Tuesday. Another social media user ridiculed batsman Kusal Mendis who was out for a duck, saying there would have been more cheer if a different “Mendis” was included — referring to a popular alcoholic drink known as “Mendis Special”.
Another fan speculated tonguein-cheek that the poor performance was all part of a strategy to dupe other teams into thinking Sri Lanka were weak before next year’s World Cup. AFP
Brief Scores: Afghanistan 249 (Rahmat Shah 72, Ihsanullah Janat 45; Thisara Perera 5/55) bt Sri Lanka 158 in 41.2 ovs (Tharanga 36, Thisara Perera 28; Rashid Khan 2/26, Gulbadin Naib 2/29) by 91 runs
India beats Hong Kong: narrowly
That Indian cricket board agreed to play back-to-back games at the Asia Cup had much to do with the fact that one of their opponents would be a weak associate nation team.
But Hong Kong were more than just that. Thay not only gave big favourites India a run for their money in their opening game of the tournament here on Tuesday night, they also threatened to actually eke out a famous win when their openers -- Nizakat Khan and Anshuman Rath -- were going great guns. In the end, their valiant effort fell short by 26 runs as India heaved a sigh of relief.
Nizakat Khan (92 off 115 balls) and Rath (73 off 97) batted like assured pros during their 174-run stand, making batting look easy and showing that scoring runs at a steady rate wasn’t as complicated on this track as the Indian batting made it out to be. In fact, Shikhar Dhawan’s 120-ball 127 was put in the shade by Nizakat and Rath.
A match that was meant to give the Indians some nice practice before the big clash against Pakistan on Wednesday, and also an idea about the conditions, became a rude lesson for the Men in Blue.
That India managed to come out a winner was largely due to the inexperience of Hong Kong batsmen after the exploits of the openers. A tired Rath drove a Kuldeep Yadav-half-volley to Rohit Sharma at extra-cover in the 35th over as the opening stand was finally brought to an end. When debutant Khaleel Ahmed trapped Nizakat in front of the stumps in the next over, it opened the floodgates as Hong Kong finished at 259/8. Yuvendra Chahal came into his own, finishing with figures of 3/46. The 20-year-old Khaleel returned figures of 3/48.
Put in to bat by Hong Kong, their batsmen soon realized that they were not getting a regular belter to bat on. Rohit Sharma’s ill-timed lofted shot off off-spinner Ehsan Khan landed in the hands of mid-off. Ambati Rayudu, on a comeback trail, scored a 70-ball 60 at No. 3. Then what followed was a familiar story in India’s ODI cricket. A frail middle-order caved in as Hong Kong put up a disciplined bowling performance.
India could muster just 48 runs, losing five wickets in the last 10 overs of the innings. The middle-order failed the team one more time as India finished at 285/7.
Dinesh Karthik (33) stayed true to his reputation of getting confident starts and then throwing it away and MS Dhoni edged an innocuous Ehsan Khan delivery to the wicketkeeper to fall for duck after facing just three deliveries.
With India taking on arch-rivals Pakistan on Wednesday, it was hardly the workout they wanted. It was a draining experience and it will be a test of character for them against Pakistan. Can they lift themselves up for the marquee clash?
India beat Pakistan-I
Men In Blue Make Light Of Long-Awaited Desert Derby With Easy Win Over Pakistan
When the fixtures for the Asia Cup were drawn, India would be hoping that one of their two back-to-back games would be an easy outing. The Hong Kong game on Tuesday was expected to be a cakewalk.
It turned out to anything but that with big favourites India having to eke out an unconvincing 26-run win.
However, September 19, 2018 made amends for the Men in Blue as they dispatched a listless Pakistan by eight wickets with as many as 21 overs to spare. The total game lasted 72.1 overs, something the Indians would be very happy about. India are now one-up on their arch-rivals at the top of a tournament which could potentially see them square off another two times in the next 10 days.
The emphatic victory does send out a strong message to the other contenders: This team can be dominant even without Virat Kohli.
Once Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed asked India to field first, the desire to hit India hard at the top of the game was evident. The ploy had much to do with the fact that India had a draining outing just 14 hours ago and it was their best chance to run them ragged under the blazing sun.
However, a breeze made the afternoon a lot cooler than the preceding days. India’s opening seamers — Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah — tied down the flamboyance of Fakhar Zaman and Imamul-Haq. The batting collapse which followed only looked inevitable.
They imploded in a very familiar way.
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan’s authority at the crease against the charging pace attack meant that the 163-run target didn’t induce any shockwaves. That allowed Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik, both looking to cement a place in the team, to amble past the target, staying unbeaten on 31 each.
Rohit’s men did everything that Sarfraz would have wanted his mates to do — keep their heads and stay in the match. Bhuvneshwar (3/15) and Bumrah’s (2/23) impeccable length and unwavering line tested the anxious nerves of openers Zaman and Imam as both perished playing atrocious shots, leaving the rest of the batting tied in shackles.
As Rohit and Dhawan saw off the initial burst before getting stuck into the Pakistani attacks for their 39-ball 52 and 54-ball 46 respectively, it laid out a template that the Pakistani coaching staff would rub into the minds of Zaman and Imam for the coming games.
India, meanwhile, stuck to their gameplan smartly and made a chest-thumping statement about their bowling resources.
That the side-arm off-spin of Kedar Jadhav (3/23) choked the Pakistan batsmen was more due the work done by the new-ball bowlers earlier in the innings.
Hardik Pandya’s breakdown didn’t hurt India even if it happened in the middle of a partnership between Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam.
As Azam walked past a googly from Kuldeep Yadav to lose his off-stump for 47 and Malik was run out for 43, it was game India.
India beat Bangladesh
After Easy Win Over Pakistan, India Enjoy Yet Another Evening Stroll In Dubai Park
It was in the last over of the powerplay that Shakib Al Hassan drove and swept Ravindra Jadeja for two consecutive boundaries. Bangladesh’s recovery from 16/2 looked to be taking off with Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim — two of their most established batsmen – at the crease. Jadeja’s return to white-ball cricket after a hiatus of 15 months had got a rude welcome.
Then, MS Dhoni intervened. He went up to Jadeja and the duo decided to move Shikhar Dhawan, at single-saving midwicket, a little squarer. Jadeja darted one in, the ball slowed down off the pitch and Shakib succumbed to a rush of adrenaline. A repeat of the sweep off the previous ball ended in the hands of Dhawan at square-leg.
That moment literally set up India’s dominance for the rest of the match. The first match of the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup went along expected lines as India’s clarity of thought and superior ability kept Bangladesh on the mat.
India chased down the 174-run target with ease. Skipper Rohit Sharma, looking imperious as ever, hit an unbeaten 83 off 104 balls.
M S Dhoni got some batting practice ahead of sterner tests ahead, scoring 33 off 37 balls.
Ambati Rayudu had edged Rubel Hossain to Mushfiqur on 13 after Dhawan was trapped in front by Mehidy Hassan for 40 off 47 balls. That led to the biggest cheer of the day as MS Dhoni strolled out to take guard.
If Bangladesh fans thought their team had got over the disappointment of a heavy defeat against Afghanistan the preceding night, and the grudge against schedule that supposedly favoured India, they started slowly leaving the stadium in disappointment after the 20th over of the chase.
India’s approach deviated refreshingly from the one of Bangladesh. Rohit Sharma shelved all inhibition to tamper with the team combination and played an extra-spinner in Jadeja alongside the limitedovers wrist-spinners in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. As Jadeja cashed in gleefully with figures of 4/29, a spell of poor batting by Bangladesh’s middle-order saw them sink to 65/5. Predetermined slog-sweeps and reverse-sweeps from Shakib, Mushfiqur and Mosaddek Hosain gave Jadeja a smooth reentry into limitedovers cricket.
A flicker of fight did come at 101/7 when captain Mashrafe Mortaza (26) and Mehidy Hasan
(42) added a tinge of maturity to their batting to add 66 runs. But when Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah backed up their usual immaculate opening spells with final figures of 3/32 and 3/37 respectively, Mortaza would have known his batsmen had dug a hole too big for their bowlers to pull the team out of.
Rohit and Dhawan, like against Pakistan two nights ago, were not going to let go of the opportunity to capitalize on good batting conditions. They had realized batting under lights was a better proposition, having seen the two Hong Kong openers drag them all the way in their opening game.
They started the march towards the inevitable result in the most dominant fashion. Dhawan, looking good for a big score, fell for 40, but by then the platform had been set up for an Indian cruise.
India beat Pakistan-II
Dhawan, Rohit Hit Tons As India Drub Pak To Virtually Secure Final Berth
Seldom does the crowd in Dubai hang back for the entire length of a one-sided match. At least, that has been the trend in the ongoing Asia Cup. But a duet between the free-flowing Rohit Sharma and a hard-hitting Shikhar Dhawan can bewitch even the most indifferent fan.
Sunday was one such evening. The craowd had expected a sterner fight from Pakistan in the second mneeting of the arch-rivals at the Asia Cup. Pakistan did perfrom better with the bat than the previous game when Shoaib Malik shepherded them to 237/7. But it proved to be a false dawn as Rohit and Dhawan owned the stage under lights for the third time in a row. The duo ripped apart the Pakistan attack as India cantered home by nine wickets with more than 10 overs to spare.
As Dhawan and Rohit brought up their 15th and 19th ODI centuries respectively while putting up a 210-run stand , one wondered if there was a better opening pair in ODI cricket. Dhawan was run out for 114 (100 balls, 16x4, 2x6) but Rohit (111 n.o., 119 balls, 7x4, 4x6) stayed till the end to ensure that India virtually qualify for the final.
Pakistan is a team which can be sublime and sub-standard in the same match. Shoaib Malik’s pacing of his 90-ball 78 was a fine kncok on a pitch which wasn’t easy to bat on. But three dropped catches off Rohit’s bat and inconsistent, ill-planned bowling undid all the hard work done by Malik Pakistan again decided to bat first despite knowing that conditions here favour the batsmen batting second. They brought back an off-colour Mohammad Amir, hoping he would disturb the mindset of the Indian batting. It all backfired.
Amir’s aggression was neutralised by the authority of Dhawan. Like they always do, the Pakistani bowlers came out charging and banging the ball hard on the pitch. Dhawan and Rohit unleashed their disdainful cuts, pulls and hooks. And when the bowlers did pitch it up, they kept piercing the in-field.
The Indian bowlers look like following a script—the two opening pacers stifling the top-order with their unwavering line and length and then the spinners coming in to chip away at the middle-order.
Rohit and Dhawan may have run away with all the glamour on the night, but their free-flowing batting has much to do with how the bowlers have performed in the first half of the match.
Pacer Jasprit Bumrah’s 2 for 29, Yuzvendra Chahal’s 2 for 46 and Kuldeep Yadav’s 2 for 41 are a testimony to a well-coordinated attack. The openers and the bowlers have so far shielded the middle-order from any pressure. India wouldn’t mind it for now.
Afghanistan and India tie
Shahzad Scores Memorable Ton In Tied Match As Depleted Men In Blue Fail To Cross The Line
MS Dhoni the captain’s brand value still shines bright. On Tuesday, it was ‘skipper’ Dhoni, 696 days after he decided that he will not be the designated captain of the Indian team, who walked out for the toss against Afghanistan. His presence immediately breathed fresh life into what was supposed to be dead rubber but ended up instead as a thrilling, memorable tie.
The smattering of crowd for this inconsequential Asia Cup match screamed in delight to see Dhoni take charge once more.
The team management would have had no other option after Rohit, vicecaptain Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal were all rested ahead of Friday’s final.
The Indian batsmen looked set for the chase after Mohammad Shahzad’s belligerent 116-ball 124 and Mohammad Nabi’s enterprising 46-ball 64 took Afghanistan to a more-than-respectable score of 252/8.
The score was around what has been par for the Afghans throughout the tournament. KL Rahul’s 60 off 66 balls and Ambati Rayudu, with his 57, did what regular openers Rohit and Dhawan did in the three previous matches.
But their dismissals upset India’s poise and it was only a rearguard action from Ravindra Jadeja that enabled them to tie the game.
Jadeja shepherded the lower-order with a 25 off 34, only to hole out at deep mid-wicket off Rashid Khan with a single needed off two balls. India were dramatically bowled out with one ball to spare.
Both Rayudu and Rahul set the platform for Dhoni, batting at No. 4 for the second time in the tournament, to test his skills against the threat of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
The anticipation of a Dhoni special with the bat fizzled out again as he was given out LBW for eight off a turning ball from Javed Ahmadi which looked like missing the stumps.
Two of India’s tough workouts have come against the two least-fancied teams in the tournament.
Afghanistan, out of contention even before the match got under way, were not going to let India cruise. Shahzad’s onslaught against the inexperienced pacers Deepak Chahar, Siddarth Kaul and Khaleel Ahmed was the most entertaining phase of top-order batting in the tournament, barring Dhawan and Rohit. Afghanistan’s own MS got the more famous MS thinking!
India’s young attack had Dhoni’s experience to fall back on as Shahzad shimmied down to hit the bowlers out of their lengths. MSD was his usual calm self. He didn’t say much, just gestured to his bowlers.
Shahzad had 87 out of Afghanistan’s 103/4 in the first 20 overs. Only 16 runs off 48 balls were given away to the other four batsmen who had batted by then.
Finals: India beats Bangladesh, wins title
The India vs. Bangladesh final of the Asia Cup, 2018
Pakistan versus India : India wins
Asia Cup- Highlights, 1984-2016
Dubai : It was a thrill-a-minute ride, absolutely worth top billing, as India beat Pakistan by five wickets, with two balls to spare, in an exciting contest here at the Dubai International Stadium. The star of the show, as he has so often been in recent times in T20Is, was Hardik Pandya, showing nerves of steel and starring with first ball, then bat in a tricky, nervy chase, to save the day for the Men in Blue.
It’s been 10 months since Shaheen Afridi’s memorable spell of pace and swing dismantled India’s batting in a T20 World Cup game at this venue. The foundation of Sunday’s win, however, was laid by the Indian pace attack, which put in a stellar effort to bowl Pakistan out for 147.
Led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya, Indian pacers dished out short-pitch stuff right through the innings as the first five Pakistan wickets fell to deliveries climbing on to the shoulders of the batters. Bhuvneshwar’s 4/26 and Hardik’s 3/25 gave Indian batters a relatively modest target.
Eventually, it came down to Hardik again to pull off the chase with an unbeaten 17-ball 33. As Hardik finished the match with a six off left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, he again showed why he has become an indispensable part of the team.
The Indian top order of KL Rahul (0), Rohit Sharma (12 off 18) and Virat Kohli (35 off 34) once again looked out of place against quality pace, as it did on that night last October. Their conservative approach, which has been a bane for India’s T20 fortunes in big matches, resurfaced as 19-year-old pacer Naseem Shah (2/27) sent shockwaves in the Indian dressing room with some thunderbolts right up front. Shah dismissed Rahul in the first over and saw Kohli being dropped on naught, off the first ball he faced from the pacer.
Kohli and Rohit looked scrappy during their stay before holing out at long-off off Nawaz (3/33). Ravindra Jadeja, sent in to bat at No. 4 in the absence of Rishabh Pant, contributed a 29-ball 35. His 29-ball, 42-run partnership with Hardik, coupled with Pakistan’s slow over-rate resulting in five fielders inside the circle in the last three overs, saved the day for India.
This set of Indianbowlers — Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh, alongside Bhuvneshwar and Pandya — have played the bulk of their cricket since the pandemic here in UAE. Two IPLs and a T20 World Cup later, the Dubai pitch continued to sport a considerable amount of green andoffered pace and bounce.
Contrary to popular belief, Dubai is more like home conditions for Indian pacers. The hard length across the two IPLs have become the in-thing. Bhuvneshwar, admired for his movement through the air, caught the Pakistan batters guessing when he decided to pull his length back right from the word go.
Pakistan skipper Babar got into a tangle in the third over of the match as a top-edged hook lobbed to Arshdeep at short fine-leg. Once the quality of Babar was tamed for just 10, it set the tone for the Indian pacers. The big square boundaries made it difficult for Pakistan to find the boundary with the regularity modern-day T20 cricket demands. They were literally choked by a barrage of balls aimed at their throat.
Hong Kong versus India
Dubai : The 26 balls he faced against Hong Kong, Suryakumar Yadav demonstrated all the right things about his T20 batting, while exposing everything that is wrong with India’s topthree in the batting order. Surya walked out to bat at the end of the 13th over with the scoreboard reading 94/2 after KL Rahul went for a 39-ball 35 and Virat Kohli was still striking just about run-a-ball.
When Surya walked off unbeaten with 68 runs to his name, and Virat Kohli by his side with a 59 off 44, he had propelled India to 192/2. In doing so, Surya had put the game beyond the spirited Hong Kong team who finished with 152/5 having cashed in on India’s two inexperienced bowlers — Arshdeep Singh (1/44) and Avesh Khan (1/53). India’s head coach Rahul Dravid, wearing that worried look in the dugout, will go into the Super 4s with the same set of unresolved issues. The pitch and Hong Kong’s inexperienced, but spirited bowling, gave little space to the Indian batsmen till the time Surya took strike. Captain Rohit Sharma’s dismissal on 21 off 13 earlier in the innings at mid-on was indicative of a double-paced pitch.
It was one of those days when the scoreboard belied the intent of the Indian batters, barring Surya. The first two balls he faced, he swept left-arm spinner Yasim Murtaza for boundaries on either side of long-leg. The pitch started looking different while he was on strike.
This match was always about oiling the machinery. Virat Kohli did get to spendenough time in the middle and got runs under his belt. But if his arduous partnership with Rahul is anything to go by, there was a heavy layer of rust on the top order.
It was almost bizarre when Rahul and Kohli batted together, slow — against an attack like Hong Kong — and ardous. The match was reduced to having a knock in the nets to get a feel of the ball. It seemed spending time in the middle was a bigger priority than getting a move on. Perhaps, knowing the batting credentials of Hong Kong gave them that liberty. Or so they thought.
The duo waited for balls to land absolutely in their zone to go for the big shots. Credit to Hong Kong bowlers, they offered very few in that area. In his 44-ball knock, Kohli found the fence only four times. Three of those times, he cleared the deep mid-wicket. That was evidence of being extra cautious.
Surya’s innings showed it was neither the bowling nor the pitch. It was about the intent and confidence in his skills that shredded the inexperienced team.
For teams like India, matches like these are meant to flex their muscles to the extent it looks like they are bullying the newbies. For 13 overs, Hong Kong must have believed they had gotten away. Surya moved around the crease on his nimble foot, targetted all parts of the ground and ended up smashing four out of his six sixes in the last over bowled by medium-pacer Haroon Arshad, even as Kohli looked content knocking the ball down the ground with a straight bat. Hopefully, the time spent in the middle has shaken off some rust for Kohli and Rahul. The big teams won’t offer so much time to ease into an innings.
The bowling, too, let the minnows cross 150. Alarm bells are ringing.
INDIA: KL Rahul c McKechnie b Ghazanfar 36, R Sharma c Aizaz b Shukla 21, V Kohli not out 59, S Yadav not out 68; Extras: (b1, nb2, w5) 8; Total: (2 wkts) 192; FoW: 1-38, 2-94; Bowling: Arshad 3-0-53-0, Shukla 4-0-29-1, Ehsan 4-0-26-0, Aizaz 3-0-37-0, Murtaza 4-0-27-0, Ghazanfar 2-0-19-1.
HONG KONG: N Khan run out 10, Y Murtaza c Avesh b Arshdeep 9, B Hayat c Avesh b Jadeja 41, K Shah c sub b Bhuvneshwar 30, A Khan b Avesh 14, Z Ali not out 26, S McKechnie not out 16; Extras: (lb1, nb2, w3) 6; Total: (5 wkts) 152; FoW: 1-12, 2-51, 3-74, 4-105, 5-116; Bowling: Bhuvneshwar 3-0-15-1, Arshdeep 4-0-44-1, Jadeja 4-0-15-1, Avesh 4-0-53-1, Chahal 4-0-18-0, Kohli 1-0-6-0.
Pakistan beats India
Dubai : Unpredictability has been Pakistan’s greatest virtue in big matches and big tournaments. On Sunday, they got another virtually unknown player, Mohammad Nawaz to spring a surprise and stun India in the second thriller on the bounce between the two teams in this Asia Cup. Pakistan winning by five wickets with a ball to spare has left India vulnerable in the Super 4s.
Chasing 182, the left-arm spinner cameout to bat at No. 4 in the ninth over with the scoreboard reading 63/2 after returning figures of 1/25 when India batted. With Mohammad Rizwan batting like a rock at the other end, Nawaz launched a brutal counter-attack on the Indian bowlers to score a 20-ball 42, hitting six boundaries and two sixes in front of the wicket to put India on the back foot. He nullified India’s middle-over trump card Yuzvendra Chahal who gave away 43 in his four overs.
Even as Rizwan fell for a 51-ball 71 to Pandya’s slower ball at long-off soon after Nawaz went the same way off Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the Indian team cracked under pressure. Arshdeep Singh dropped a sitter offered by Asif Ali at short-thirdman in the 18th over. Needing 26 off 12, Khushdil Shah and Asif got stuck into India’s most experienced seamer Bhuvneshwar, whose death-bowling abilities got exposed, to pick up 19 runs off the 19th over. Arshdeep’s effort to make amends for the dropped catch was always going to be tough with just seven in the bank.
Nawaz’s sterling show put Virat Kohli’s return to form in the shadow. The magical form which eluded him in empty stadiums during the pandemic here in UAE in 2020, came back in front of a packed Dubai International Cricket Stadium against the fiercest of rivals. He got off the mark with a backfoot punch to mid-off off a Haris Rauf delivery bowled at 151 kmph and signaled he had rediscovered his old touch. And that nonchalant whip off a Mohammad Hasnain thunderbolt for a six over the mid-wicket fence had his trademark class written all over. The innings of 60 off 44 may not be the most astounding of T20 innings in terms of statistics, but its significance in the larger context is much greater than only helping India post a challenging 181/7.
It was a day when India’s top three of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli looked like striking form after Pakistan skipper Babar Azam won the toss and elected to bowl first on a pitch that seemed much truer than all other surfaces in this tournament thus far. Buoyed by a sterling showin the opening match, theraw pace attack of Pakistanturned out to amp up theheat with the ball. In turn,Rohit and Rahul feasted onthe extra pace offered. Thestand-out feature of the topthree’s batting on Sundaywas the fact that every aggressive shot was hit in frontof the square — be it Rohit’s short-armpulls over the mid-wicket or Rahul’s crisppunches over the 30-yard circle. The brandof cricket which was promised but not getting delivered was finally on show withIndia’s captain and vice-captain putting upa 54-run stand in 5. 1 overs. Kohli took over once Rohit perished for28 off 16 and Rahul holed out at long-on offShadab Khan for 28 off 20.
Kohli has neverbeen the quintessential muscle player in T20s. Hisstrengths have never beenfunky ramps or switch-hits. Sunday was vintage Kohli. As the power-packed middle-order of SuryakumarYadav (13 off 10), RishabhPant (14 off 12), Hardik Pandya (0 off 2) and Deepak Hooda (16 off 14) fizzled out,Kohli couldn’t go berserk as he had toguard his wicket too. Hitting gaps anddriving the fielding team crazy with hismaverick-like running between wicketsagain became his go-to strategy. That hehit just four boundaries and one six saidhow well he maneuvered the field. It wasironic that his innings ended while hetried to pinch a second run and an AsifAli direct hit found him marginally short.
India beats Afghanistan
Dubai : After 1020 days of agony, anxiety and scrutiny, Virat Kohli got an international hundred. The wait for his 71st international ton ended when he disdainfully smacked Afghanistan’s Fareed Ahmad over the mid-wicket boundary to bring up his first T20I century off just 53 balls.
As he took off his helmet, raised his bat to the sparse crowd in the stadium and kissed the wedding ring in his necklace, Kohli’s gentle smile highlighted the relief he must have felt. Only an event as special as this could have injected some interest in the match against Afghanistan, which had no consequence in the context of the Asia Cup.
For a man with great affinity for occasions, Kohli would have loved to have the moment come in a match of greater significance. But, given how hostile things have been for him over the last one year or so, he will take every bit of success that comes his way. Kohli arrived here in Dubai with a question mark over his place in the T20 team. He leaves as India’s highest scorer in the tournament by a distance.
His innings of an unbeaten 122 off 61 balls (with 12 fours and six sixes), which had one blemish when he was dropped on 28 by Ibrahim Zadran at deep mid-wicket off captain Mohammad Nabi, helped India post a mammoth total of 212/2.
After the Kohli knock, the match soon became a drag after Bhuvneshwar Kumar wiped out the Afghanistan top order, taking 5/4 in his four overs. The drudgery ended with Dinesh Karthik bowling the last over of India’s campaign here in the Asia Cup as India won by 101 runs, with Afghanistan ending at 111/8. In India’s final outing in the event, captain Rohit Sharma decided to sit out. So, it was Kohli who walked out to open the innings with stand-in captain KL Rahul after Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi won the toss and elected to bowl first.
Afghanistan bowlers, drained by the emotionally-charged humdinger against Pakistan in Sharjah a night earlier, looked jaded. Kohli and Rahul were not going to miss out. After a somewhat sedate start in the first four overs of the powerplay, they opened up to play an array of stupendous strokes.
They took on Nabi and Rashid Khan to add impetus to the innings. The footwork looked nimble, indicating clarity of thought. As Kohli started finding the fence with ease, Rahul too got into the act and started outscoring Kohli before being dismissed for 62 off 41 balls, which had six boundaries and two sixes.
Kohli, who was cruising through the innings, took it to another level after the 15th over even as Rishabh Pant was struggling for timing. Kohli ran hard between the wickets and hogged the strike in the last five overs as he put on 87 runs in 42 balls for the third wicket, with Pant scoring just 20 off 16 balls.
The forays down the track to Rashid Khan, the effortless punches through the covers, the glides past short third-man and the swats through mid-wicket showed that he was batting at his best. Afghanistan’s two left-arm pacers — Fazalhaq Farooqi and Fareed Ahmad — found out what bowling against gold standard batting was all about.
Like the knock against Pakistan last Sunday, this innings too had trademark Kohli written all over. As he has done all through his career, Kohli demonstrated that a T20I innings could be adequately paced by playing orthodox textbook shots and notthe modern-day funky shots. If India were looking for any positives from here, it has to be Kohli’s stellar form.