The boys in green went down fighting in a nail-biter against arch-rivals India in Dubai, losing by five wickets with just two balls to spare. The result was a lot better than what was expected at the break. Some fans who braved the soaking hot weather to watch in the stadium might have thought it would be a one-sided result after Pakistan were bowled out for just 147 — not a terrible total, but certainly one which would be challenging to defend. Among the few ‘highlights’ of Pakistan’s batting was Fakhar Zaman’s sportsmanship — he walked after being caught behind even before the Indians had appealed. However, the bowling was top notch, and Pakistan looked like they might just pull off an upset as late as the 15th over, when Indians were four down and still needed 59 runs.
That upset would have probably become a reality if not for a big-hitting knock by man-of-the-match Hardik Pandya, who also ran through the Pakistani top order while bowling. It also did not help that the oppressive heat floored Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf, both of whom had cramps and looked like shells of themselves in their second spells. Indian star Virat Kohli also had a second reason to celebrate as he became just the second player to have played at least 100 matches in all three international formats, joining retired New Zealander Ross Taylor. But while Kohli is also considered one of the most dominant players in the game today, he struggled to build momentum, despite being India’s top scorer.
The game also offered a momentary break from the suffering in several parts of the country, although players did make it a point to show solidarity with flood victims by wearing black armbands. It must also be noted that this match was essentially about bragging rights. Pakistan and India had both essentially qualified for the knockout stage as soon as the groups were drawn — while Hong Kong may put up a fight, nobody expects them to beat the Pakistanis or Indians, so long as both South Asian teams remember to show up.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2022.
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