This is the first time we’ve beaten India and I feel proud, said man-of-the-match Shaheen
A spellbinding display of pace and swing from Shaheen Shah Afridi and a majestic opening partnership between Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan brought tears of joy for Pakistan fans around the world.
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India have finally been defeated in a World Cup game. In their proud cricket history, Pakistan had produced several world-class teams – teams that were better than India’s.
But a win over their big rivals always eluded them.
All that came to an end at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday when a young Pakistan team put Virat Kohli’s hugely experienced Indian side to the sword with the most clinical of performances in the T20 World Cup.
Shaheen (4-0-31-3), the 21-year-old left-arm pacer, broke the back of India’s top-order by dismissing Rohit Sharma (0) and KL Rahul (3), setting the tone for Pakistan’s ascendency as the highly fancied Indian team were restricted to 151 for seven.
Captain Babar (68 not out, 52 balls, six fours and two sixes) and Rizwan (79 not out, 55 balls, six fours, 3 sixes) then came up with a sublime exhibition of shot-making to script a stunning 10-wicket win, sending Pakistani fans on an exhilarating ride.
Deeply hurt by New Zealand and England’s decision to pull out of their cricket tours to Pakistan due to non-cricketing reasons, new PCB chief Ramiz Raja had urged the team to take their anger out on their rivals in the World Cup, starting from the high-profile opener against bitter rivals India.
And Babar’s team rose to the challenge in style, even drawing praise from Kohli after Rizwan put India out of their misery in the 18th over, hitting a six and two fours against the listless Mohammed Shami to guide Pakistan home with 13 balls to spare.
“We did not execute the things that we wanted to, but credit is certainly due – Pakistan outplayed us today,” Kohli said after becoming the first Indian captain to lose a World Cup match against Pakistan.
It was Pakistan’s day right from the start when Babar won the toss and opted to field, hoping to take advantage of the evening dew.
Shaheen made his captain’s task easier by bowling an unplayable yorker to Rohit in the fourth ball of the innings as the Indian opener was plumb in front.
The speedster jumped for joy before cleaning up Rahul in the third over with a sharp in-coming ball to leave India gasping for breath at six for two.
Kohli (57, 49 balls 5 fours and 1 six) and Rishabh Pant (39, 30 balls, 2 fours, 2 sixes) did try to revive the innings with a combination of exquisite shots from the Indian skipper and outrageous hoicks from the wicketkeeper-batsman. But the Pakistan bowlers never allowed the Indians to take the game away.
“Hitting through the line was not as easy in the first half as it seemed in the Pakistan innings, so when you know the conditions can change, you need 10-20 extra runs. But some quality bowling from Pakistan didn’t let us get off the blocks,” Kohli admitted.
Haris Rauf (1/25) was superb with his variations and change of pace in the death overs and leg-spinner Shadab Khan (1/22) also played his part beautifully.
But the hero was Shaheen who returned in the 19th over to end Kohli’s knock.
“This is the first time we’ve beaten India and I feel proud. I knew it would be good for us if I got early wickets and that worked out,” said Shaheen who was named man-of-the-match.
And the unassuming Babar said his team was confident of upsetting India.
“Shaheen’s wickets gave us a lot of confidence and the spinners dominated as well. The pressure on us wasn’t that much – we weren’t thinking of the record against India at all. I only wanted to back all our players who’ve been preparing well,” said Babar whose side will be now brimming with confidence ahead of their next game against New Zealand.
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