Indian skipper MS Dhoni, MoM Virat Kohli and Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi share their views after the India v Pakistan Asia Cup contest
Indian skipper MS Dhoni called the right side of the coin and invited Pakistan to bat first. Though Shahid Afridi said they had decided to bat first anyways it was going to be tough, taking into consideration the pitch and the conditions. Pacers gave India a perfect start getting rid of both the openers in quick succession. The changeup bowler Hardik Pandya was effective as well and got crucial wickets. He finished with his career best bowling figures of 3.3-0-8-3, also the best bowling figures by an Indian agaisnt Pakistan in T20Is.
84 was never going to be enough against the batting lineup Pakistan were up against. But the comeback man Mohammad Amir breath fire in his first spell and got rid of both the Indian openers in his first over. If something could get Pakistan a win, it was his spell. But Virat Kohli played a sensible knock and his 49-run knock and 68 runs partnership with Yuvraj Singh ensured India weren’t pushed to the wall. Dhoni walked in to complete the formality and did so in style.
Following the game Yuvraj said: “It was a bit tough. The Pakistani bowlers bowled really good areas. They bowled quick as well. It was not easy to bat and Virat (Kohli) batted exceptionally well. Our bowlers bowled well too. I am happy that I spent a bit of time out there in the middle. They call me the pie chucker for no reason (smiles, when asked about his bowling). I try and do my best for the team every time I bowl.”
Virat Kohli was awarded the Man of the Match for his gritty 49.
Talking to Rameez Raja in the post match presentation Kohli said: “It wasn’t such an easy wicket to bat on. I wasn’t happy with myself with the way I batted in the last game. So I decided to dig in. I would like to congratulate Mohammad Amir for that spell. I was so happy to play that kind of bowling. God bless him for more success. Counter-attack is the game that I play, I bat at No. 3. T20 cricket is just an extension of Test cricket for me. I don’t try any fancy shots. On these kind of wickets, it’s very important to change your shot at the last moment. You need to stay calm, stay relaxed and that is the best way to bat on this pitch.”
Indian skipper had every reason to be proud of the effort from his team. MS Dhoni said: “Initially we thought this would be good practice for the T20 World Cup, but the conditions here are very different. I think it’s good for us. We are one team, who like to play aggressive cricket and I think the conditions here will push us. I thought Amir bowled really well for them. I am glad that we restricted them to 83. 110 would have been a good score.”
He emphasised on the importance of the middle overs and getting regular wickets, “The middle overs were crucial for us. We picked wickets are regular intervals and that’s what we did. I think the fast bowlers can have a big impact going forward in the tournament. We have each and every department covered. We have the bowling options to operate in these sort of conditions. We have a lot of variety and that is why we are sticking to this XI. Hardik (Pandya) or Jadeja can even bat at No. 8. Fielding is something that we love to put a lot of effort in and it is a crucial aspect of the game.”
Afridi now has a lot of questions to answer before they take on the field for the next game. Shahid Afridi said: “We should have read the pitch better. We didn’t play accordingly. If your top batsmen are back in the hut inside the first 6 overs, then you won’t score many runs. We have to address this issue. This was not a 160 wicket. We are capable of bouncing back from here on. If you bowl in the right areas, you will get wickets on this pitch.”