Pak vs India: Prized wicket of Malik falls, all eyes on Asif

Pakistan are 205-5 after 44 overs against India in their Asia Cup 2018 Super Four match being played at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

After captain Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to bat first, Fakhar Zaman and Imamul Haq opened the innings for Pakistan, whereas Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah shared the new ball for India.

Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP
Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the ODI Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

Following a cautious start, Pakistan were dealt the first blow on the final ball of the 8th over when Haq was trapped leg-before-wicket by Yuzvendra Chahal.

Zaman, who was joined by Babar Azam at the crease, smacked the day's first maximum in the 13th over bowled by Kuldeep Yadav.

Fakhar Zaman falls on the ground after he was dismissed by India's Kuldeep Yadav. — AP
Fakhar Zaman falls on the ground after he was dismissed by India's Kuldeep Yadav. — AP

The hard-hitting southpaw hit another four to Yadav in the 15th over but like his fellow opener, fell leg-before-wicket when trying to sweep one. Replays showed that Zaman may have earned a reprieve had he opted for a review but he decided against it despite consulting his partner.

Sharma, left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Pakistan's Babar Azam, front. — AP
Sharma, left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of Pakistan's Babar Azam, front. — AP

In the next over, Pakistan lost another big wicket, this time Azam being the casualty due to Sarfraz Ahmed's call. Azam responded to a call for a single by the skipper, who then cancelled the call, leaving him in the lurch on the non-striker's end.

The resultant run-out left Pakistan three-down and needing a major innings from their skipper, who was joined by Shoaib Malik — the last game's match-winner.

Run weren't flowing in the first place but the trifecta of wickets dried them up even more. A couple more tight overs followed to leave Pakistan 71-3 after 20 overs.

The duo rotated the strike for the next five overs, taking their side to 92-3 at the halfway mark of their innings.

Sarfraz Ahmed plays a shot during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP
Sarfraz Ahmed plays a shot during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Pakistan and India — AFP

While Sarfraz was content at picking up singles, Malik was growing in confidence; he launched Chahal over the long-on boundary in the 28th over, at the end of which the score was 108-3.

Both Sarfraz and Malik hit 4s in the 31st over as they searched for an extra gear in order to ensure that the match remains competitive in the second innings of the game.

Malik brought up his second straight half-century of the Asia Cup 2018 with a single in the 35th over, at the end of which Pakistan were 141-3.

But Sarfraz couldn't replicate him, holing out in cover off the bowling of Yadav in the 39th over, at the end of which Pakistan were 165-4.

Asif came alive in the 42nd over bowled by Kumar, hitting two massive 6s to go with two 4s. At the end of that over, which leaked 22 runs, Pakistan were 193-4.

Malik's prized wicket fell in the 44th over when he nicked one to Dhoni when trying to glance one to the fine leg.

Captains' comments

Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said of the pitch at Dubai International Stadium: "It looks good to bat on and hopefully we can score enough today."

"Mohammad Amir is playing today. He's a main player. Shadab Khan is back as well. Haris Sohail and Usman Khan are out. We want to score 250-plus," Sarfraz said.

Pakistan had dropped struggling fast bowler Amir against Afghanistan, but he was recalled today after the team's unconvincing bowling display. Left-arm medium-pacer and newcomer Shaheen Afridi, who took two wickets against Afghanistan, is also in the team today.

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma said he would be happy if his side continued to bowl the way it had during its last two games. "We restricted the teams to decent totals."

"We have to come out here, bowl well and chase whatever target they give us. Quite happy with the wristspinners. They are still learning, they went wicketless in the last two games, but they know exactly what they are doing."

"They've done it in the past many times. There will be games where they are not successful. That doesn't mean they are bad bowlers or are not bowling to plan. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition. They understand the pitch here is quite slow and they understand they need to vary the pace," Sharma said.

Line-ups

Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain and wicket keeper), Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir.

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma (captain), Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (wicket keeper), Dinesh Karthik, Kedhar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.



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