The high-voltage clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan turned into a rather lop-sided contest after Pakistan struggled to put up a competent first innings total. With the Indian bowlers bettering their performance against Hong Kong by a fair distance, Pakistan found themselves short of batting depth and eventually folded for a below-par total. The Indian openers blazed away from the word go and the result was a foregone conclusion before Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik completed formalities.
Here we present to you the player’s report card from the match.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar shortened his length, used his variations and cramped the batsmen for room in an opening spell that had Pakistan reeling. He sent back Imam-ul-Haq early and added the big scalp of Fakhar Zaman to expose the middle-order to the new ball. Bhuvneshwar added one more late in the innings to finish with impressive figures of 3/15.
With his incapabilities against left-arm seam analysed the world over, Rohit Sharma scored an attractive half-century that included a 19-run over against Usman Khan.
The stand-in skipper seemed a tad edgy early on but quickly hit top gear to put the result beyond doubt. While he showcased better judgement against the left-arm duo, Rohit would rue the fact that he fell to another nemesis of his, the googly.
With India sweating over Hardik Pandya's fitness, Kedar Jadhav stepped up with his slingy off-breaks and not only plugged the hole in the attack but also acted as the catalyst for a dramatic collapse. Jadhav sent back Sarfraz Ahmed early courtesy a spectacular take from Manish Pandey and added the wickets of Asif Ali and Shadab Khan to leave Pakistan gasping. His nine-over spell completely changed the complexion of the innings and he deservedly tops the rating.
With Bhuvneshwar hitting the right notes, Bumrah, returning after a deserved break, gave him solid support from the other end. He suffocated Fakhar Zaman in the opening over, a maiden that eventually forced the aggressive opener to get restless and go after Bhuvneshwar in the next over. Bumrah returned to end a late fightback from Faheem Ashraf and finished with figures of 2/23.
Dhawan carried on from where he left off against Hong Kong, digging into some average new-ball bowling by the Pakistani seamers and making merry in a low-scoring run-chase. While Rohit was the more authoritative partner, Dhawan stuck to his guns and ensured his end kept ticking over.
Forever a thorn in India's flesh, Shoaib Malik's experience came to the fore as he stalled Pakistan's slide with a solid display of batsmanship at No 4. Combining with Azam in an 82-run stand, Malik milked the spinners with authority and read the surface excellently. With Azam falling to Kuldeep, Pakistan needed Malik to stay long but the veteran batsman threw it away with some heedless running between the wickets.
Picked over KL Rahul at No 3, Rayudu followed up his half-century against Hong Kong with an unbeaten, fairly comfortable 31. After Rohit and Dhawan departed post a solid opening stand, all Rayudu had to do was marshal the run-chase to avoid any final hiccups and this he did to perfection in the company of Dinesh Karthik.
India are no close to sealing that No 4 spot but Karthik did his chances no harm with a fluent, unbeaten knock that took India to a comfortable win. Karthik showed his ability to milk runs while maintaining a healthy strike rate.
Playing the sheet anchor role from No 3, Babar Azam combined with Shoaib Malik to resurrect Pakistan's innings. From a precarious 3/2, Azam played with a composed, calm head to guide Pakistan out of the abyss. Just when it seemed like he and Malik would spoil India's great start, Kuldeep flighted one above his eye-level and castled him with a ripper.
Amir continued to remain wicketless but controlled the run rate in an opening spell that could have translated into something bigger. He probed Rohit Sharma's weaknesses against left-arm pace but the battle was eventually won over by the opening batsman. Pakistan need Amir to sharpen his wicket-taking skills which have taken a backseat in recent times.
The chinaman spinner had a surprisingly silent day despite managing to break the most important partnership in the Pakistan innings — a flourishing one between Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik. Kuldeep ended the stand by cleaning up Azam with a superb delivery and kept the middle-order quiet with his variations.
The leg-spinner sent back Rohit Sharma with his first delivery of the day, a well-disguised googly but soon left the field owing to a strain in his lower back. His departure left Pakistan completely crippled on a slow surface defending a below-par total.
Ashraf rallied together Amir in an engaging partnership down the order that gave Pakistan a few extra runs. With the ball, Ashraf was loose with his lines and despite picking up one Dhawan's wicket, he would be disappointed with his efforts.
The leg-spinner dropped a return catch offered by Faheem Ashraf and had a rather average day with the ball, going wicketless in an economical seven-over spell where he showed courage to flight and drift the ball but couldn't really test the technique of batsmen. With the surface aiding spin, India would need Chahal to play a bigger role in the upcoming matches, something he is perfectly capable of.
Injury could possibly end Hardik Pandya's Asia Cup but the all-rounder was in better rhythm at Dubai, mixing up his lengths and keeping the batsmen guessing. He forced an outside edge of Shoaib Malik but Dhoni dropped a fairly regulation chance to deny Pandya a wicket. The latest injury to the all-rounder should worry the Indian management.
The fast bowler with the best strike rate in ODIs since these two teams last met, Usman Khan failed to live up to his reputation, leaking runs and conceding extras and free hits. The pacer was a shadow of his normal self despite starting off quite decently.
The centurion in the Champions Trophy final, Fakhar Zaman's battle with Jasprit Bumrah was a highly anticipated one. A maiden from Bumrah to him was enough for Fakhar to get impatient and it showed in the next over when he tried to go after Bhuvneshwar. Generating extra bounce, Bhuvneshwar cramped Fakhar for room and forced a top-edge to dismiss the opener for a nine-ball duck. He returned to fill in for Shadab Khan with the ball and bowled a tidy spell where he dried up the run flow for some time.
The wicket-keeper batsman who won over the world with his exemplary captaincy skills in the Champions Trophy once again stepped up at take responsibility at No 5, but couldn't get going. Manish Pandey, the substitute fielder, pulled off a screamer to send the Pakistan skipper back before he could make an impact. Sarfraz's ability to keep the scoreboard ticking would have worked wonders for Pakistan with the innings derailing.
After a mind-blowing start to his ODI career, Imam faced a reality check against India in Dubai. Stepping out to cart Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Imam edged a back of the length delivery to Dhoni to peg Pakistan back early.
“I would like to do my wicket-taking celebration ten times against India,” the Pakistan seamer who acted as the destructor-in-chief in that Champions Trophy final had said before the two teams clashed in the Asia Cup. Nothing of the sort materialised as Hasan returned with no wickets to his name in a four-over spell where he was carted around by Dhawan and Rohit. The openers never allowed the pacer to settle into a rhythm and his wayward lines ensured that his figures for the day were deplorable.
Pakistan's new-found finisher had gained attention in recent times with his ability to rapidly up the ante in the death overs. But with the team down and out at 96/4, Ali needed to play with a bit more caution than he eventually did. A six off Kuldeep was followed by a wild slash at a nothing ball from Jadhav that he edged behind.
*MS Dhoni wasn't rated owing to his minimal role in the match
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor
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