Every passing cricket match tells us something and India vs Pakistan on Sunday told us a few things too. While the match was billed up to be a classic, it turned out to be a very lukewarm affair. Here’s what we learned from the game:
Imad Wasim not used properly
The first major talking point came in the second over of the Indian innings itself when captain Sarfraz Ahmed gave the ball to Imad Wasim. The move certainly surprised everyone and made people scratch their heads as to what made Sarfraz bring on Imad so early. While Imad has opened the bowling in the Pakistan Super League and T20I cricket before, this was a strange decision given the overhead conditions.
If Sarfraz wanted to surprise the Indians, he forgot to factor the relative ease with which the Indian openers have played left arm spin in their careers. After Mohammad Amir’s brilliant first over, Pakistan had to go with a pacer at the other end to make the new ball count. Imad Wasim’s poor day was completed when he conceded 23 off the final over and was later dismissed for a golden duck.
Hardik Pandya could be India’s new finisher
For so long, finishing games has been synonymous to one name – MS Dhoni. Perhaps that is coming to an end now. For a while now Dhoni has been unable to finish innings and games regularly like in the past. Hardik Pandya made his 80 not out against Bangladesh in the warm-up match count to make it into the side ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin and went in ahead of Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav to score and unbeaten 20 off six balls to take India to 319, hitting three sixes in a row.
The recently concluded IPL season saw the hitting ability of Pandya take centre stage and in his short international career so far, he has already played some key innings down the order. This makes us seriously wonder, Hardik Pandya could be India’s new finisher.
Bad fielding would mean an early exit from the tournament
Pakistan were very poor in the field with regular misfields and a couple of dropped catches of crucial players at important times in the game. Hasan Ali dropped a regulation chance of Yuvraj in the 39th over when he was on eight, and Yuvraj went onto make a 32-ball 53. Five overs later, substitute fielder Fakhar Zaman put down a catch of Virat Kohli who was then batting on 43 off 55 balls. Kohli ended up with a 68-ball 81. The dropped catches itself cost Pakistan 81 runs which were compounded by the misfields.
India too had a bad day in the field dropping two catches of their own and committing a lot of misfields which made Kohli rate the fielding performance a six out of ten solely because of a superb Ravindra Jadeja run out, but it did not affect the result in the end. If teams are to win this tournament of the world’s best, fielding standards will have to improve.
Pakistan batted without a plan
When Duckworth Lewis made the target 324 off 48 overs, Pakistan started very slowly and after the rain interruption after five overs changed the target to 289 off 41 overs, Pakistan looked out of the game there and then. The approach was poor, to say the least. Constant dot balls, aimless swings of the bat, no urgency to rotate the strike, no communication, all compounded Pakistan folding for just 164.
To put things into perspective, the batting was a pattern of dots and the occasional boundary, along with poorly executed aggressive strokes. It’s clear to say that Pakistan batted pretty much without a plan.
The gulf between the quality of Pakistan and other teams is clearly visible
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said that his team would play without pressure as they are eighth on the rankings and expectations weren’t much from the side. Yet, on Sunday, they played like an eighth-ranked side. Poor selection, poor bowling changes, inexperience in pressure games, failure of the big players are some of the issues that have been plaguing Pakistan cricket for a while and they did so in this match too.
Coach Mickey Arthur said the defeat was a “reality check” and said Pakistan have been doing the basics wrong. Lack of quality and timely variations, dropping simple catches, not running well between the wickets are just some issues he emphasised upon and he was spot on. These factors are crucial for a team to perform well in the modern game and Pakistan have faltered in execution. They are the main reasons why they find themselves really lagging behind the rest of the teams in the Champions Trophy.
While this India vs Pakistan rivalry has been nothing short of epic in the past, recent games have made this rivalry very one sided simply because of the lack in quality between both the sides.