India defeated Pakistan in a nail-biter of an Asia Cup 2022 match in Dubai on Sunday. Here are our five takeaways from the match:
1- Pak-India T20 cricket has become too toss dependent
Cricket, perhaps, remains one of the few sports where toss matters so much. The eventual outcome of the game can be hugely influenced by a pre-game flip of a coin.
Of the 10 T20Is played between Pakistan and India, the side batting first has won just twice, which shows that chasing is clearly the way to go. Rarely does a captain win the toss and opt to bat first.
The last time this happened in a Pak-India T20, the year was September 2012 and Mohammad Hafeez was the skipper who had opted to bat first despite winning the toss. It was the wrong call and Pakistan ended up losing by eight wickets that night.
On Sunday, the luck was in favour of India, just as it was in Pakistan’s favour last year. Rohit Sharma won the toss and did not even bother to announce what his decision was — probably because in his mind it was obvious what he was going to opt for. Not to take away anything from India, but that coin flip set the tone for the entire night, just the way it usually does in these ties.
Toss is a grand cricket tradition but maybe now is the time that cricket administrators would want to work out a better system as its replacement. That’s because as of right now, the mantra pretty much is: win the toss, bat second and you’re almost guaranteed to win the match.
2- Pakistan’s weakness against short balls exposed
The troglodytes among Pakistan fans would know that their beloved team’s vulnerability against short, rising balls has existed since times immemorial.
That weakness makes sense too, since Pakistan batters do not get any bouncy tracks at home, and so anything short and they act like fish out of water. The Indian think tank spotted that the Dubai track was unlike a typical Dubai wicket and had something for the pacers.
The Indian bowlers kept their lengths short and brilliantly exploited the Pakistani weakness. It was a perfectly executed plan that deserves all the praises.
3- Top-heavy Pakistan need to sort out middle order
Before the match, one of the talking points was Pakistan’s over reliance on the top three of Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman.
The others below lacked experience and did not have a proven record of having done anything notable with the bat at this level and in such a high-profile affair. Khushdil Shah (2 off 7), Shadab Khan (10 off 9), Asif Ali (9 off 7) and Mohammad Nawaz (1 off 3) all failed, thus, proving that there are a few chinks in the armor that need fixing.
4- Naseem Shah comes of age
The batsmen disappointed but the bowlers did not, and made a competitive match even though they did not have a big total to defend.
The pick of the bowlers obviously was Naseem Shah, was menacing in the opening over and found enough movement to trouble Indian top order.
An element of luck was involved in his dismissal of KL Rahul but he was luckless when he saw Virat Kohli dropped in the same over in the slip cordon. Had it been a double wicket salvo in over 1, things could have perhaps turned out very different.
Towards the end, Naseem was cramped up and bowled his second spell pretty much on one leg, which was a testament to his passion for the game.