Watch: India’s winning moment as Hardik Pandya smokes nonchalant six vs Pakistan
Hardik eventually wrapped up the chase in style in the final over as India sealed a thriller in Dubai to get their campaign off to a great start.
India and Pakistan gave their fans a long-awaited thriller during their Asia Cup 2022 opener at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. After setting a modest target of 148, Pakistan bowling unit, inspired by the young Naseem Shah, helped the side to bounce back before sloppy fielding efforts, along with a determined Hardik Pandya led to their downfall in the final over. Hardik eventually wrapped up the chase in style in the final over as India sealed a thriller in Dubai to get their campaign off to a great start.
Heading into the final over, India requited seven runs off the last over with spinner Mohammad Nawaz sent into the attack. He dismissed Ravindra Jadeja for 35 off 29 in the very first ball before finisher Dinesh Karthik walked in. Nawaz went for a quicker delivery down the leg side and Karthik swept hard towards backward square leg to grab a single and put a well-set Hardik on strike. Nawaz bowled the same one, on the leg stump and Hardik smashed it nonchalantly and with swag, flat over long-on for a six.
Hardik came in when the chips were slightly down for India as Suryakumar Yadav had departed trying to bring down the asking rate which had by the 15th over climbed to nearly 10 an over. He remained not out on 33 off 17 balls including four fours and a six. With 21 needed off 12 balls, Hardik smashed Haris Rauf for consecutive boundaries and then brought out a powerful short-arm jab that fetched a boundary more which turned the game in India’s favour. That captain misfielded at the boundary and allowed India a boundary on the first instance did not help Pakistan’s cause. In the final over, again, Pandya kept his cool and scored the winning runs for India.
Four years back Hardik was stretchered off the field at the same venue in the Asia Cup match against Pakistan owing to a back injury. The issue troubled him long, affecting his red-ball career and restricting him to solely feature as a batter in white-ball game, a stance that had affected India in the 2021 T20 World Cup against Pakistan.
His all-round performance only seemed to be an act of redemption. He picked three wickets with the ball which included the key dismissals of Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed and Khushdil before creaming a six and four boundaries during his unbeaten knock.
In a chase like this, you always plan over-by-over. I always knew that there is one young bowler and also one left-arm spinner. We only needed 7 off the last over but even if we needed 15, I’d have fancied myself. I know the bowler is under more pressure than me in the 20th over while bowling to me. I try to keep things simple. It’s not my ego. Just the confidence I have,” Hardik said after the match.
“In bowling, it’s important to assess the situations and use your weapons. For me, bowling short and the hard lengths have been my strengths. It’s about using them well and asking the right questions to make the batters commit a mistake,” he added on his bowling performance.