India vs Pakistan game today into a least expected tense low-scoring affair but its expectations. As seen from the first day of the tournament the ball dominating the bat, the tune of the tournament so far was on display yet again, as the bowlers had an excellent day in the field-- something that has become a rarity of late.

But in the end, Mohammed Amir’s resurgent comeback was matched and just bettered by arguably Virat Kohli’s best T20I innings so far, as India beat Pakistan by 5 wickets in a tense low-scoring affair.
Some brilliance by Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah early on, mixed with a brilliant fielding performance by the Indians meant that Pakistan were bowled out for their lowest T20I score against India, and their third lowest overall-- 83.

But the game was far from over by then, as Amir rattled the Indian top-order by taking three wickets in his first two overs, reducing India to 29/3 by the time he finished his spell.

It was then that Kohli perhaps played the innings of his career so far, and combined with Yuvraj Singh to guide India to victory.

Here are the Top 5 Highlights Of The Match!

#1 The Nehra- Bumrah opening partnership

The Nehra- Bumrah opening partnership - India vs Pakistan Asia Cup T20: Five talking points
Nehra now has, at least one wicket in the powerplay overs, in his last 6 matches
As abundant as an Indian team with a solid opening batting combination has been, a team with a penetrating bowling attack has been equally rare.

But, over the past five matches, in the shortest format of the game, India’s opening combination of Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah has looked as good as any in the game.

The impressive Nehra-Bumrah duo showed its prowess in the most crucial game of their relatively short partnership today.

The weakness of the Pakistani batting line-up was exposed, as Nehra struck in the first over of the match when he got Mohammed Hafeez caught behind with a delivery that bounced and moved away from the Pakistani batsman.

With this wicket, Nehra now had, at least one wicket during the powerplay overs, in his last 6 T20I matches.

Bumrah followed his senior’s performance with a maiden over up first, and then got Sharjeel Khan caught at slips in his next over to reduce Pakistan to 22/2.

Further tragedy ensued, as after surviving an appeal, courtesy a bad decision by the on-field umpire, Khurram Manzoor got involved in a tangle with Shoaib Malik, lost his bat in the middle of the pitch, so that Virat Kohli, who was furious over the unfortunate decision, could hit the stumps to send the same batsman back.

The run-out kept aside, the powerplay overs that fetched India 3 wickets for 32 runs, were dominated by the aforementioned gentlemen, who made the full use of the greenish pitch that was on offer.

#2 Impressive Indian fielding led by Ravindra Jadeja

Impressive Indian fielding led by Ravindra Jadeja - India vs Pakistan Asia Cup T20: Five talking points
Jadeja has now comfortably established himself as India’s No. 1 fielder
Ravindra Jadeja, especially since his comeback for India during the South Africa series last year, has been an absolute superstar.

Reminiscent of those days when a young Yuvraj Singh and his partner-in-crime Mohammad Kaif used to field like live wires for India, Jadeja not only saved boundaries and stopped extra runs, he also punished the batsmen who tried to take those extra runs.

He first came into the picture in the third over of the match, when a fiercely driven ball from Khurram Manzoor’s bat was saved from crossing the ropes by a diving Jadeja who was chasing the ball from covers.

If a run was saved there, the Saurashtra all-rounder made sure that another one wasn’t stolen, when he ran Shahid Afridi out with a perfect throw from deep mid-wicket.

Afridi pushed the ball through the vacant midwicket area on the leg side and took on the arm of India’s best fielder. The Pakistani captain, who didn’t look warmed up for the game, at least by the way he ran, was made to pay by the Indian.

Even though the veteran had put in a full-length dive to reach the crease, his wicket was already taken before he had even started diving.

The throw was straight over the stumps, and perhaps the best wicket-keeper when it comes to stumpings and run-outs in recent times, did the rest.

Pakistan were already tottering by then at 42/6, but Jadeja hadn't bowled yet, which also meant that he wasn't done yet.

He trapped Wahab Riaz leg-before-wicket first, and when Sarfaraz Ahmed looked like taking Pakistan to a total of some respectability, he cleaned up the batsman with a round-arm straighter one.

Jadeja has become as good a lynchpin of this Indian line-up as a Virat Kohli or a Rohit Sharma.
Apart from Jadeja, Kohli, Bumrah and Yuvraj were all seen throwing themselves around the field, thereby saving crucial runs in what turned out to be a low-scoring affair.

#3 Bad decisions continue from the umpires

Bad decisions continue from the umpires - India vs Pakistan Asia Cup T20: Five talking points
Ashish Nehra couldn’t believe it when Khurram Manzoor was given not out after the latter had gloved a ball to MS Dhoni behind the stumps
It is really baffling not to find the Decision Review System (DRS) in place for a multi-nation tournament like the Asia Cup.

If we go on the conventional norms of treating umpires as human beings and realizing the pressure that they are put through in international matches, that in itself should be the most important reason for the DRS to be put in place, at least for the obvious howlers, if not for the close lbw calls.

While there have been numerous controversial decisions in the recent past, including during two of the past three bilateral series that India played-- the T20I series against Sri Lanka, and the ODI series against Australia-- the ones here only added to the clamour.

Khurram Manzoor tried to play a ramp shot in the third over of the match, that was bowled by Ashish Nehra when the ball took the glove and landed safely into MS Dhoni’s hands.

Dhoni was confident and appealed while Nehra didn’t even bother appealing and started celebrating only to find the umpire unmoved.

While full respect must be given to the difficulties that the umpires face, a simple re-check through the hotspot and the real-time snicko would have sent Manzoor back.

That Manzoor didn’t last long after that, and that Pakistan faltered in their batting attempt should in no manner take the sheen out of this issue. These decisions can, and have in the past, changed the course of several cricket matches.

If India were unlucky, Pakistan had their share of bad luck too, when the very first ball of the second innings saw Rohit Sharma survive a leg-before shout on a brilliant inswinging yorker by Mohammad Amir.

That Rohit was dismissed off the next ball didn’t solve the issue either.

India are not the only team playing in the tournament (given their vehement opposition to the DRS). Hence, the Asian Cricket Council should keep the larger interests in mind and mandate a DRS in place from the future tournaments.

India, on the other hand, must also rethink about their stance. It's not every day that you give one away and get one back. Kohli’s dismissal at the fag end of the match was also controversial.
It was a completely different thing that the game was already decided by then.

#4 Batsmen's struggles in bowler-friendly conditions on display

Shoaib Malik, Pakistan’s most experienced batsman, couldn’t deliver for his team today
Years of habituation to playing on pitches akin to flat roads have made most of the subcontinental batsmen absolute maulers of the cricket ball, and has got the commentators talking about how invincible they have become over the years.

Well, reducing the bowlers to school-children asking for toys would definitely make you look invincible. It is only when you make the bowlers look like bowlers that the fun turns into a cricket game.

That is exactly what happened in Pune, and what has been happening throughout the Asia Cup.

Today was no different, as Nehra and Bumrah bamboozled the Pakistani batsmen at first, who looked all at sea in the powerplay overs, while Mohammad Amir and company returned the favour by picking up three quick wickets in the Indian innings.

Had Pakistan got 120-130 in their innings, we would have a game to watch. (not that this one wasn’t)
The frailties of the batsmen were on display nevertheless, during whatever runs that were made, as they struggled with the extra bounce, as well as the lateral movement that was on offer.

Rohit Sharma was trapped before his middle-stump by a ball that came back after pitching while Ajinkya Rahane too went in an almost similar fashion.

Raina was beaten twice upon his arrival to the crease while Yuvraj was consistently troubled by Mohammad Irfan with the ball that swung in to the left-hander.

Even Kohli, who was India's best batsmen today was beaten on several occasions with deliveries around the corridor of uncertainty.

Earlier, the Pakistanis too were all at sea as they tried to hit themselves out of trouble in the initial overs that resulted in two of the three wickets that fell in the first 6.

#5 The stars of the game- Mohammad Amir and Virat Kohli

The stars of the game- Mohammad Amir and Virat Kohli - India vs Pakistan Asia Cup T20: Five talking points
Mohammad Amir was the best of all the bowlers who bowled today
While the Indian fielding performance and the bowling were only at par with excellence, if there was a better superlative, Mohammad Amir and Virat Kohli would have been adorned with it.

The game looked all but over when Pakistan were bowled out for 83, but Amir, who had had an ordinary return to competitive cricket so far, something that had got everyone talking, chose the apt moment to respond.

If he was denied a wicket off the first ball that he bowled, he made sure that he got two within the next two overs that he bowled, when he dismantled India's top order with the fast swinging deliveries.
Such was the menace that he created, that 18 of the 24 balls that he bowled were dots. By the time he finished his spell, he had left India struggling at 29/3.

But, if Pakistan’s star was done there, his Indian nemesis had just begun.

By the time Virat Kohli finishes his career, he would have played several spectacular knocks, but hidden amidst those arrays of hundreds and fifties, would be this one knock, just one short of a fifty, but with a quality that would hardly be matched by any of his other innings.

At 29/3 after 7 overs, the 84-run target looked like a mammoth one for India, and had it not been for Kohli’s masterclass, the end result might have been different.

He wasn’t at his fluent best when he started, for he struggled too against the moving ball, giving half-chances to the Pakistani fielders. But unlike the Pakistani batsmen, he didn‘t try to hit himself out of trouble.

Rather, he persisted. He persisted long enough to get his eye in, to get a feel of the pitch, and judge the conditions. And once he was set, there was no one stopping him.

In an innings studded 7 boundaries, he didn’t have the best of comfortsto display, but what he had were grit, determination, and patience to weather the storm and make merry during the calmness that followed.

This might be the best T20 innings that Kohli has played till date, and it had just 49 runs.


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