Dubai [UAE]: After notching up a convincing eight-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan in the ongoing Asia Cup, India’s stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma on Wednesday heaped praises on his bowlers for not allowing the opposition to gain an upper hand during their Group A fixture at the Dubai International Stadium.
Indian bowlers put up a sensational performance to bowl out the Pakistan side for 162 runs in 43.1 overs after the latter opted to bat first. While pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and spinner Kedar Jadhav scalped three wickets each for the team, Jasprit Bumrah picked up two wickets in the form of Faheem Ashraf and Usman Khawaja. Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, the 31-year-old said that the Indian bowlers learned a lesson after surviving a scare against Hong Kong in their opening group fixture on Monday.
“Right from the start, we were quite disciplined. (We) wanted to learn from yesterday’s mistakes. (It) was a great game for the bowling unit, especially since we knew it won’t be difficult in these conditions. We stuck to the plan. and did what we had planned to do on this surface. Spinners kept it tight, got the odd breakthrough, but the wickets in the first couple of overs were very important. It was important to get early wickets because they’ve got some quality in the batting. So we didn’t want to make things easy for them,” he said.
Rohit further revealed that his side decided to not panic at a time when Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik were trying to get Pakistan back into the game by stitching a partnership. The swashbuckling opener further hailed Kedar Jadhav’s all-round performance, and spoke on his new role as a bowler, saying his overs in the middle were very crucial for the team, especially after Hardik Pandya was stretched off the field with a back injury. “Kedar has been working on his bowling, and he takes his bowling seriously. It augurs well for the team, and the wickets are a bonus for us. His overs in middle are very crucial, especially after Hardik’s injury,” Rohit said.
He also lauded the openers’ performance in the high-octane match while also praising their approach in overhauling a modest target. Rohit said, “Quite enjoyed my little innings, got out to a great delivery but it was important to come and adjust to the surfaces here. Now we know exactly what to do. Need to create partnerships to achieve the targets we want to get. And fantastic finish by Dinesh (Karthik) and (Ambati) Rayudu as well.” On the other hand, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed blamed his side’s poor batting display for the defeat.
“We didn’t have a good start. Lost two wickets in the first five overs. Then regular wickets then meant we couldn’t come back into the game. You can say we batted poorly. The wickets were soft dismissals, except Babar’s. So we need to see how we play in the future. We did prepare for the two main spinners, but got out to the third one (Jadhav). This is a good wake-up call before the super fours,” Sarfraz said. Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was adjudged the Man of the Match, described the challenges of bowling on flat and dry pitches.
Bhuvneshwar stated, “(We) needed to get initial wickets if you want to beat your opponents. On a track which doesn’t swing, you can just bowl stump-to-stump and hope not to give too many runs. That way they make mistakes and that’s the best way to get them out. It’s a hot place, and tracks are flat, so it’s not easy for the bowlers.” Meanwhile, Jadhav, the star performer in the game, was full of praise of Rohit’s exceptional batting performance.
“India-Pakistan match is always exciting. We have won the match and we are happy that we have won. Rohit is a brilliant batsman and we love to watch him bat,” he said. Chasing an easy target of 163 runs to win, India did not break much sweat and clinched the victory with 126 balls to spare. Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan gave a solid start to the Indian side as they notched up 52 and 46 runs respectively, besides also accumulating a collective 86 runs for the first wicket. After the departure of the openers, Ambati Raydu (31) and Dinesh Karthik (31) remained unbeaten at the crease to drive the team towards a convincing victory.
Earlier, besides Babar Azam (47) and Shoaib Malik (43), none of the other Pakistani batsmen was able to contribute much to their side’s innings and fell cheaply. India, who have finished at the top spot in Group A, will now lock horns with Bangladesh in the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup at the Dubai International Stadium on September 21.