Former Indian captain Virat Kohli had a nervy 100th T20 international as teammate Hardik Pandya led India to a five-wicket win over Pakistan in the Asia Cup on Sunday.
Pandya picked up three for 25 with his fiery short-pitched deliveries and helped India to limit Pakistan to 147 before smashing an unbeaten 33 off 17 balls, which carried India to 148 for five with just two balls to spare.
Pakistan was set to upstage India but a calm Pandya smashed three boundaries in the penultimate over against Haris Rauf before finishing off the game in style with a six over wide mid-on against left-arm spinner Nawaz (three for 33).
India’s ploy to challenge the Pakistan top order with short balls after winning the toss worked perfectly as Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4-26) got the key wickets of captain Babar Azam (10) and Fakhar Zaman (10) inside the batting powerplay.
Pandya then sliced through the middle order and also had top-scorer Mohammad Rizwan (43) dismissed with another sharp bouncer before number 11 Shahnawaz Dahani smashed two late sixes to give Pakistan a glimmer of hope.
In the absence of injured Shaheen Shah Afridi, Pakistan’s second-string fast bowlers still dominated India’s strong top order.
Debutant Naseem Shah had KL Rahul bowled for a golden duck before Kohli was dropped on zero by Zaman at second slip off the second ball he faced from the 19-year-old pacer’s superb first over.
After his early escape, Kohli smashed Dahani with his trademark pull to the midwicket boundary in the second over before top-edging a six over the keeper’s head against Rauf. However, Kohli was tied down by both spinners Shadab Khan and Nawaz before falling midway through the India innings with 35 off 34 balls.
With seven required off the last six balls, Nawaz clean bowled Jadeja with the first ball before Pandya finished off the game in style.