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T20 World Cup 2024: India Beat Pakistan – From Backs to the Wall, To Bounce Back

T20 World Cup 2024: Despite looking destined to lose, India somehow managed to clinch a victory.

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In the end, it was a case of ‘so close and yet so far’ for Pakistan, yet again. As India pulled off a thrilling victory from the jaws of defeat, Babar Azam and his team were left licking their wounds after a second successive loss at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024. The 2009 champions could not simply lay off the proverbial ‘albatross’ of defeat that often hangs from their neck in World Cup duels with India, suffering their seventh T20 World Cup defeat to the neighbours.

The much-awaited India-Pakistan may not have ignited the usual batting fireworks of a T20 contest, yet for connoisseurs and commoners alike, it was a see-saw battle full of suspense and brave performances, with India’s victory margin – barely six runs – highlighting how closely contested the match was.

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Early Exit for Virat Kohli

Initially, for the spectators coming in massive numbers, it was a disappointing welcome to the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York as the ground was soaked by untimely showers. But they weren’t disappointed and kept the enthusiasm up throughout the agonizing wait for the game to start again.

The players came back after half an hour and much to the delight of the spectators, it was announced that no overs were lost due to the interruption. Kohli dazzled with a classic cover drive but immediately thereafter holed out to point, his square-cut landing in Usman Khan’s hands who made no mistake. The law of averages seems to be catching up with Kohli and his walk brought a hush to the ground. Despite their joy, many Pakistani fans too were disappointed as they wanted Kohli to exhibit his vintage class, though not at the expense of Pakistan’s win.

Kohli’s exit virtually strangulated the Indian line-up as none of the batsmen applied themselves at the crease nor cared to gauge the pace and bounce of the wicket. While the breeze under the overcast sky certainly helped the pacers to swing their deliveries but the dubious pitch made the ball come off slow off the wicket, and greatly hampered stroke play.

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Poor Execution From Indian Batters

Yet, India’s collapse was also triggered by a lack of application from the start when captain Rohit Sharma played a careless flick and holed out to mid-wicket, a shot which did not make much sense under the circumstances. Though Rishabh Pant top-scored with 42, his stay at the crease was a crazy tale of hits and misses with many dropped chances.

From Pant, Axar Patel and Suryakumar Yadav to Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya – all were at sea against a bowling attack which was sharp and disciplined. But the blame for the regular fall of wickets lay squarely with Indian batters as they failed to adjust their shots to the slow pace of the wicket. The fact that Team India did not even play out its full twenty overs proved the lack of a gameplan which suited the pitch.

In contrast, Babar Azam rung astute bowling changes, which got Pakistan coveted scalps without much sweat. Rotating the bowlers well, Babar kept the batters guessing.  Naseem Shah, Mohammad Aamir and Haris Rauf were the pick of the bowlers, ably supported by Imad Wasim and Shaheen Afridi.
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Brilliant Bumrah Rattles Pakistan

For a while, Indian supporters went silent since a score of 119 looked totally beatable. But if Indians were erratic in their approach, Pakistani batsmen made heavy weather in an even more inept display of batting. When Shivam Dube dropped Mohammed Rizwan at square leg, a collective sigh went up and with 19 runs off the initial three overs on board, Pakistan looked in command.

But the coming of Jasprit Bumrah, who was declared Player of the Match for his bowling performance, changed the complexion of the game. Getting Babar Azam in the slips started a downward slide that was stemmed by Rizwan alone. None of the other batters in the likes of Usman Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim or Iftikhar Ahmed got going as Indian bowlers created hurdles that the Pakistani batters found too tough to surmount.

If the pitch played truant in the beginning, it went even slower in pace in the latter stages. The low and often awkward bounce hampered stroke play to a large extent but to many it seemed as if memories of past defeats were haunting Pakistani batsmen. At 72/2 in 12 overs, Pakistan looked well set to take the game away and the Indian fans were deeply worried. But Pandya’s gobbling of Fakhar Zaman turned the tide in India’s favour. As the bowlers kept tightening the noose, Indian supporters suddenly found their voice back, raising the din with each new wicket. 

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Except for Jadeja, who was strangely listless both in batting and bowling, every Indian bowler chipped in effectively. Led by Bumrah, the quartet of Mohammed Siraj, Arshdeep Singh, Axar Patel and Hardik Pandya bowled in keeping with the demands of the situation.

Clearly, Rohit and his boys pulled up their socks and did what was required on a pitch of dubious bounce and pace. Bowling to a plan, they succeeded when actually things looked dense and foggy like the clouds on the horizon. Unfortunately for Pakistan, despite the sun coming out brightly in the latter part of the game, they could not take advantage of the environs and lost a contest that ran close most of the time.
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Biggest Stars of the Day – The Fans

There were many fans who were at the stadium trying their best to scour a ticket at whatever cost. Some of them strolled endlessly from one end of the Eisenhower Park, where the Nassau Stadium is built, to another, in search of anyone who could help them with an entry inside the stadium. While many cheered for their teams inside the stadium, there were a few hundred outside, passionately reacting to every boundary or wicket.

Eventually, it was the day of the bowlers, but batters on both sides would blame the dubious drop-in pitch from Australia for their misery in the battle of the Asian giants.

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