Inidan (L) and Pakistani players arrive at the field during the Asia Cup Twenty20 international cricket Group A match between India and Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on August 28, 2022. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)
Pace bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya shared seven wickets between them as India bowled out Pakistan for 147 in a crunch Asia Cup Twenty20 international on Sunday.
Mohammad Rizwan attempted to set the pace for Pakistan with his 43 after early wickets, but the Indian bowlers kept coming back at a packed Dubai International Stadium.
Kumar set the tone for India's dominance as he dismissed skipper Babar Azam for 10 in the second over and returned figures of 4-26.
Pandya rattled Pakistan's middle-order with his three wickets.
India elected to field first and Kumar nearly trapped Rizwan lbw with the second ball, but the wicketkeeper-batsman successfully reviewed the decision.
The in-form Azam began with a boundary in the first over but his stay was short-lived as Kumar had him caught at short fine-leg off a short ball.
Rizwan attempted to rebuild the innings with the left-handed Fakhar Zaman as the two struck a few boundaries between them.
Pace bowler Avesh Khan responded after getting hit for a six and four by Rizwan, inducing a faint edge behind from Fakhar (10) to bring alive the Indian crowd.
Indian fielders did not appeal and only celebrated after Fakhar walked off much to the surprise of his partner.
Rizwan then got going with Iftikhar Ahmed in a 45-run stand that was broken by Pandya with a bouncer that saw Iftikhar caught behind for 28.
Pandya struck again to deny Rizwan his fifty and soon got another to further restrict Pakistan.
Kumar took two wickets in two balls in the penultimate over but was denied a hat-trick by number 11 Shahnawaz Dahani.
Dahani smashed two sixes in his six-ball 16 before being bowled by left-arm medium-pace bowler Arshdeep Singh, who took two wickets.
India, who lost their previous match to Pakistan by 10 wickets in last year's T20 World Cup, need 148 to win in what is Virat Kohli's 100th T20 international.
Earlier in the day India skipper Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to field against Pakistan in a landmark 100th Twenty20 international for Virat Kohli on Sunday.
The high-octane clash of the Asia Cup tournament between the arch rivals has already attracted a huge crowd with almost equal fan presence at the Dubai International Stadium.
The focus remains on the 33-year-old Kohli, who will look to overcome his extended batting slump and become only the second player after New Zealand's Ross Taylor to play a century of international matches in all three formats.
India have opted for Dinesh Karthik as wicketkeeper in place of Rishabh Pant, while Avesh Khan makes the XI as the third seamer.
"Honestly, I don't think the toss is that important, we are just here to play good cricket," Rohit said.
"We've played here in the IPL (Indian Premier League), so hopefully the pitch will be good. It was a tough call we had to take between playing Dinesh and Rishabh."
India lost their previous contest against Pakistan by 10 wickets in last year's T20 World Cup at the same venue, but Rohit said they have learnt from their mistakes.
"This is an important game for us, but as cricketers we don't want to think about the opposition, we just want to correct whatever mistakes we are doing," he said.
Head coach Rahul Dravid gave a pep talk in the team huddle after he joined the squad on Sunday with a negative Covid report.
The batting great tested positive for the virus just before the team's departure to the United Arab Emirates for the six-nation tournament.
Pakistan have handed a T20 debut to 19-year-old fast bowler Naseem Shah in the absence of injured quicks Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Wasim.
"We would have also been bowling first, but this is not in our hands," skipper Babar Azam said.
"We will look to make a big score and see. Three fast bowlers, two spinners and a debut for Naseem Shah. We are trying to give it our best."
Pace bowler Hasan Ali joined the team Sunday in place of Wasim but remains on the bench.
The Pakistan team took to the field with black armbands to express solidarity and support for the people affected by floods back home.
India: Rohit Sharma (capt), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh
Pakistan: Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Shahnawaz Dahani
Umpires: Masudur Rahman (BAN), Ruchira Palliyaguruge (SRI)
TV Umpire: Raveendra Wimalasiri (SRI)
Match Referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL)