The India vs Pakistan match in the 2022 Asia Cup lived up to the hype and expectations of one of the biggest sports rivalries. A non-high-scoring game produced a humdinger of a contest, with the match going down to the wire. India eventually came out on top due to Hardik Pandya’s gold dust all-round performance. The five-wicket win came largely on the backs of the Indian bowlers, led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who picked up the best figures for India against Pakistan in a T20I. We look at the most exciting moments, stats and performances from a pulsating cricket clash between the two Asian titans.

India’s short ball attack

The Dubai pitch was slightly two-paced in nature. It wasn’t easy to score runs freely with the ball holding a bit, at times. With not enough lateral movement on offer, the line and the length becomes the key on such pitches. India found an excellent solution to this.

India used the short-pitched balls to excellent effect. The first five wickets to fall were all a result of nicely aimed short balls. India didn’t have bowlers with extreme pace – bowlers who could consistently bowl in excess of 145 kmph. That, in a way, worked in their favour.

At extreme pace, batters are more likely to leave the ball or get away with a top edge (Kohli’s Six against Rauf). On the contrary, due to Bhuvneshwar’s medium-pace, Babar Azam fancied himself for a hook shot, but the lack of pace on the ball meant that the ball only carried to the fine leg fielder and not over the boundary.

Middle-overs slowdown

The Pakistan pacers started their defence with a fiery Powerplay, bowling with rapid pace and not allowing India to tee off. India managed 38 runs from their Powerplay as opposed to the 43 runs scored by Pakistan. Then came the middle-overs choke.

After the Powerplay, India needed 110 runs at 7.86 RPO. In the next phase, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz combined to bowl seven overs between them. They conceded just 45 runs at 6.43 RPO and also took key wickets of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

That slowdown against the spinners is what made the chase a lot more challenging for India as they then needed to score the remaining 65 runs at 9.29 RPO on a tricky surface. Other teams in the Asia Cup will be wary of this weakness of Indian batters against spin.

The Hardik Pandya show

Perhaps his best all-round T20I performance. Ever since returning from his injury, Hardik Pandya is turning up with crucial, match-defining performances for India. He provides India an option of an additional seamer who can bowl all four overs, which is a huge luxury. Against Pakistan, he used his deceptive pace to great effect, bouncing out batters by bowling heavy balls. His overs in the middle phase didn’t allow Pakistan to get away after a scratchy start.

When Pandya came to bat, India still needed 59 runs off 34 balls at more than 10 RPO. Pandya ended up scoring 33 of those from just 17 balls. The biggest takeaway from his knock was his confidence in his hitting abilities; knowing that the bowlers will be under more pressure bowling to him than vice versa. The biggest example of that was in the penultimate over, where he hit Haris Rauf for three Fours to take back the match’s control.

Despite the win, India weren’t clinical in their performance. They allowed the tail to add 19 vital runs after being reduced to 128-9, and then their top order made a slightly comfortable chase into a challenging task for their middle order. Pakistan never found any momentum with the bat, but they would be happy with the way their bowlers responded to defending a below-par total. The two sides could meet once again on 4th September in the Super Four round of the Asia Cup.