The Pakistani bowlers applied a lot of pressure and picked up wickets at regular intervals. I thought India had a more experienced team in terms of T20 batting. But the way Pakistan bowled and fielded, it showed the confidence in the squad.
Pakistan’s approach while chasing was also very good. Mohammad Hafeez was too good even after his side lost three early wickets. I felt India lost the edge after two overs from Virat Kohli which in my view, was one too many. Kohli gave away 21 runs and that released the pressure because India had a low total to defend.
Contrast that with Pakistan, who had Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal bowling behind Irfan and Tanvir. Hafeez used them intelligently as well. Ajinkya Rahane went after Gul initially, but Hafeez got his man. When Dhoni came in to bat, Ajmal was brought on and that created a lot of pressure.
India’s batting seemed to be out of sorts. It looked as if India had not been playing any cricket before the match and Pakistan was. But the fact is, Pakistan had played just a domestic T20 tournament and a couple of first-class matches. That’s it. Pakistan’s last international match was in the World T20!
For India, the only spark in the match came in the form of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He’s a good addition, but I would say let’s be patient in our deeper assessment as he was bowling in bowler-friendly conditions.
He is a swing bowler and he should concentrate on swinging the ball. Irfan Pathan had the same kind of swing when he first came on the scene, but he tried to bowl fast and lost his swing. I hope Bhuvneshwar just concentrates on his swing. He can bowl both inswing and outswing. The ball that got Umar Akmal was a very good inswinger. However, his big test will come on very flat pitches.
Ishant vs Kamran
To get a batsman worked up and make him lose concentration is part of a bowler’s armoury. Ishant Sharma did just that with Kamran Akmal. Now, when that happens, a batsman loses his cool and matches are usually lost from that situation. It was a massive game and there was a lot on the players’ minds.
You need to ignore such talk. I used to always try and ‘talk’ to batsmen who I knew would get affected. I am sure whatever happened was forgotten when
the match ended and both players would have ended up shaking hands.
The highlight of the match for me was Shoaib Malik’s calm approach. He is just 30, but a very experienced cricketer, who picked singles to settle the nerves. He is not an explosive batsman, but he never lost sight of the target. If Kamran had been promoted ahead of Shoaib, Pakistan may have lost another wicket. By the way, I am shocked that Shoaib and Shahid Afridi are not in the Pakistan ODI team.
While Shoaib was brilliant with the bat, India muffed up an opportunity by not playing R Ashwin. His carrom ball would have made batsmen play to mid-wicket instead of extra cover. The fact is Ashwin has played Pakistan in one game — at the World T20 — and Pakistan would have found that delivery
difficult to get away with. If India had a better bowler than Ashwin then it would have made sense to leave him out. But clearly, that was not the case.
Pakistan chased well after the bowlers and fielders did well. They will have all the confidence after winning a close game while India will have to make a huge effort to forget the Bangalore game and win in Ahmedabad (December 28).
India’s captain Dhoni admitted that his side’s batting was a problem. Indeed, the starting point for his team’s revival is the batting department.