For the second time in a week, India registered an emphatic win over Pakistan in the Asia Cup. If the 8-wicket win in the group stage wasn’t strong enough, Rohit Sharmaand Shikhar Dhawan ensured an even more confident show in a 9-wicket win on Sunday.
Pakistan looked to be headed towards a strong total from 165/3 with Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed in good touch. But the final ten overs saw the flow of runs being controlled significantly with Jasprit Bumrah the pick of the lot. At the top of the order, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav did the damage to remove Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman.
Chahal, who finished with 2/46 from nine overs, credited the seamers for building enough pressure in the first few overs, thereby helping the spinners to execute their plans. “The new-ball bowlers usually bowl seven to eight overs before we spinners come into the attack, and the pressure they build on the batsmen with the new ball – they concede not more than 20-25 runs – helps us plan our line of attack as to where to bowl to maintain that pressure,” Chahal explained following the match.
“Because if you don’t give away boundaries in this format, the batsmen will inevitably be under pressure.”
It was indeed the case with Pakistan slow off the blocks. In the first 15 overs, Pakistan hit just four boundaries. Where Kuldeep picked the wicket of Zaman, Chahal got Imam. The India spinner stated he is now comfortable with bowling with field restrictions given how much he has bowled in the Powerplay in T20 cricket. “I have bowled quite a lot during the Powerplay in the IPL [Indian Premier League] and T20s, so this isn’t anything new for me,” he said. “I keep practising for it in the nets and vary my pace and lengths according to the wicket.”
While India spinners picked four wickets between them, Pakistan’s Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan were less so. Shadab conceded 54 runs in 8 overs and Chahal credited Rohit and Dhawan for the pressure created earlier.
“Our batsmen put their bowlers under pressure right from the word go,” Chahal said. “At times, when batsmen are not under pressure, it becomes easy to face the bowlers. And on this wicket, you have got to vary your lines and lengths. I think they have been doing that, but the situation here was slightly different in that we were 150 without loss, and that’s why (Pakistan’s) bowlers were also down mentally.”
Pakistan suffering from confidence crisis: Coach Mickey Arthur
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur conceded that the team is undergoing a confidence crisis and called the 9-wicket defeat as one of their “worst performances”.
“We are not abandoning them. Yes, they are suffering a bit of confidence crisis at the moment. There is fear of failure in the dressing room. There is a bit reality check of where we are as a cricket team” Arthur told reporters. “In terms of worst performance, nine wickets has to be up there. India have very good players. If we give them an inch, they are going to make us pay and they did that,” he said.
He also paid emphasis to Pakistan’s slow movement with the bat which only added to the pressure. “Our strike rates were not good enough with the bat. With the ball, we need to strike early against these guys. We had a couple of chances, we didn’t take them. When you get these guys chances on wickets like these, they dominate you,” Arthur said dissecting the loss. “We need to get into their middle order as quick as we can that’s when we can inflict most damage” he added.
He also admitted that Pakistan were beaten by a far superior India side. “We have to be realistic. We were well beaten by a very good Indian side. They didn’t allow us to play. We are a team that is developing. Sarfraz (Ahmed) and (Mohammed) Amir have 50 or more caps, Shoaib Malik with 200,” he said.
Arthur was also left surprised by the work ethic of Bumrah during the nets. “One thing that really impressed me, we were at optional training session the other day and I sat there for 20 minutes. I saw Jasprit Bumrah in a net next to us execute yorker after yorker after yorker,” he said. “He put that into practice. In our review, we will definitely show it to our young bowlers that his execution and even Bhuvneshwar’s in death overs was very good,” he added.