Despite being a low-scoring affair, there was no dearth of excitement as fans thronged the Dubai International Cricket Stadium to witness one of cricket’s fiercest rivalries.
Team India rose to the occasion and fared better as a unit when compared to their neighbours, who suffered a batting collapse, thanks to some superb display of bowling from the Indian seamers.
As a matter of fact, the match also marked the first instance where Indian seamers took all 10 wickets in a T20 international.
India’s batting was not at its best, however, they assessed the situations in Dubai better than their counterparts and came out on top in what turned out to be a tense chase.
That said, let’s look at some of the key performers for India in the high-octane clash against Pakistan:
Hardik Dazzles With All-Round Display
The best performer for India on Sunday, Hardik Pandya, personified confidence and calmness. The fast-bowling all-rounder impressed with figures of three for 25.
Bowling over 140 clicks, Hardik put the short ball ploy to maximum effect, picking the key wickets of Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Khushdil Shah.
Following his excellent bowling spell, Hardik donned the finisher’s role to perfection with a quickfire 33 not out off 17 balls to steer India home. His confident nod to non-striker Dinesh Karthik before hitting the winning six in the final over is a testament to the all-rounder's belief in his ability.
Wreaker-in-chief Bhuvneshwar Grabs Four
Bhuvneshwar Kumar wreaked havoc with the ball and was arguably India's top bowler. The experienced seamer offered India the first breakthrough by removing the No 1 ranked T20 batter and Pakistan skipper Babar Azam.
The 32-year-old then returned into the attack in the final overs to dismiss hard-hitter Asif Ali before getting rid of Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah in successive deliveries.
Bhuvneshwar’s excellent figures of 4/26 also made him worthy of a new milestone. He now has the best figures recorded by an Indian bowler against Pakistan in a T20 encounter. The previous record belonged to Hardik, who grabbed 3/8 in an Asia Cup match, back in 2016 in Mirpur.
Jadeja Plays the Anchor Role
After being promoted up the order, Ravindra Jadeja played a vital role with the bat in India’s win against Pakistan. Coming into bat at No 4, Jadeja stayed till the end to guide India close to the target before losing his wicket to Mohammad Nawaz in the first ball of the final over.
The spinner all-rounder arrived at a time when India were in a spot of bother after losing openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma in under eight overs. Though India kept losing wickets at regular intervals, Jadeja stood his ground and played the anchor role, scoring 35 off 29 balls.
The 33-year-old was also economical with the ball, giving away just 11 runs from two overs.
Kohli Shows Glimpses of Return to Form
Though he only scored 35 runs from 34 deliveries, Virat Kohli was India’s joint top-scorer alongside Jadeja. After an early scare at third slip, Kohli took on the attacking approach and impressed one and all with his strokeplay in what was the star batter's 100th T20I appearance.
His shot over midwicket off Haris Rauf’s delivery in the fifth over showed glimpses of a return to form. The former Indian captain slapped the Pakistan pacer to the fence with such authority that it brought back memories of a vintage Virat.
The 33-year-old's innings was laced with three fours and one six, but a moment of indecision against spinner Nawaz brought his downfall.
Arshdeep Rises to the Occasion
Arshdeep Singh justified his inclusion within the playing XI by taking two wickets (2/33) in his first-ever India-Pakistan encounter. The 23-year-old who made his T20I debut just last month against England looked comfortable throughout the match before leaking a few runs in final over.
Arshdeep offered Bhuvneshwar good support in the early overs with his variations and made best use of the opportunity as the side’s second seamer in the absence of injured pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel.
The left-arm seamer showed excellent grit to comeback and knockout the stumps of Pakistan’s last man, Shahnawaz Dahani, who had earlier dispatched him for two sixes in the final over.