Mohammad Nawaz celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Suryakumar Yadav at Dubai Cricket Stadium on Sunday night. Reuters
Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter
Asif Ali and Khushdil Shah held their nerves to steer Pakistan to an improbable five-wicket victory against India after Mohammad Rizwan set the tone with a fifty at an Asia Cup match at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday.
The match kept on swinging either way till the end as Pakistan scored 27 runs in the last two overs to chase down a tough target of 182 in 19.5 overs.
Pakistan needed 27 runs in the last two overs. Ali and Khushdil took 19 runs off the penultimate over and brought the equation down seven needed off the last over.
Ali got two a reprieve when on 1 as Arshdeep Singh dropped a sitter off Ravi Bishnoi. Ali went on score 16 off eight deliveries with the help of two fours and one six. Iftikhar Ahmed took a couple off the penultimate ball of the match to propel Pakistan to a victory.
Earlier, Rizwan continued his stellar form with second successive fifty. He played wisely and led the chase after the dismissals of captain Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman.
India made some in-roads through their bowlers as Ravi Bishnoi got rid of Babar and Yuzvendra Chahal had Fakhar caught by Kohli.
Rizwan was well supported by Mohammad Nawaz, who was promoted in the batting order. Rizwan and Nawaz shared a 73-run partnership for the third wicket and kept the chase alive.
Nawaz was more brutal of the two as it was him brought Pakistan back into the game and revived their innings with some powerful hitting. At one stage, Pakistan needed 107 off 10 overs with two top batsmen back in the pavilion.
The target seemed a distant dream, but Rizwan and Nawaz dominated the toothless Indian attack and took the game as deep as they could before cutting loose. Nawaz did exactly for what he was sent. Rizwan reached his second fifty of the tournament after a score of 43 against India in their first match.
Babar Azam watches as Rohit Sharma spins the coin at the toss ahead of the T20 match in Dubai on Sunday. AP
Nawaz was dismissed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who in his second spell got the first success. Nawaz hit a 20-ball 42 with the help of six boundaries and two over the fence. Soon after his dismissal, Rizwan also holed out Suryakumar off Pandya, who conceded 44 runs in his four overs.
Meanwhile, Virat Kohli scored the second the consecutive fifty and hinted at his return to form. Kohli, who also played the sheet-anchor role as wicket kept on tumbling on the other end, stayed till the last over and scored a watchful 44-ball 60.
He made sure that India did not run out of the steam after a dream Â start and played carefully as no other Indian batsman could keep the momentum going after the dismissal of the openers.
Kohli had scored a fifty against Honk Kong after 30 matches before this game. He brough up his half-century in style with a six. Â He was calm and composed, played each shot with the same old confidence.
Rahul and Rohit gave India a blazing start. Rohit made his intents clear right from the word go as he collected 11 runs from the first over off Naseem Shah.
In the next over, bowled by Mohammad Hasnain, they collected another nine. They put the Pakistani pacer to the sword. Both the batsmen looked in sublime touch and tore the Pakistani bowling attack apart.
Seeing Rohit, who was dealing only in boundaries, Rahul also changed his gears. Rahul took 14 runs off Naseemâ€™s second over with the help of two sixes.
Haris Rauf was brought on attack as a first change in a bid to stop the flow of runs. He was welcome with a four and a six. Pakistan bowlers were clueless where to bowl.
If Pakistanâ€™s bowlers kept it short of length, they got pulled and when they pitched it at the full length, Indian batsmen converted it into a half-volley and lofted it over for a six.
The opening brought up the 50-run partnership in 4.3 overs as India looked set to pos a total of 200 plus on the batting-friendly Dubai pitch.
Pakistanâ€™s decision to field seemed to have back-fired. There were no signs of Indian batsmen slowing down. The only way was to get them out.
Rauf pulled it back for Pakistan. He got rid of dangerman Rohit. The Indian skipper failed get hold of a shot as the ball took the leading edge, going high up in the air and landing in the safe hands of Khushdil.
The dismissal of Rohit opened the floodgates for Pakistan as India failed to capitalize on the breezy start and kept on losing the wickets at regular intervals.
Shadab had Rahul caught by Nawaz in the next over to bring more respite to Pakistan camp as India lost second wicket with in a span of nine runs.
Kohli was joined by Suryakumar Yadav, who had scored a 26-ball 65 against Hong Kong on the same pitch. Suryakumar looked overconfident and forgot that it was not a Hong Kong but Pakistan attack, who had restricted the former to a paltry score of 38 the other day.
Suryakumar played some interesting shots to keep the crowd entertained. He threw away his wicket to a reckless shot, as India were reduced to 91/3.
They needed a big partnership to reach somewhere near to the projected score of 200 plus. Kohli was waging a lone battle from the other end.
He kept the scoreboard moving with singles and couple and doubles, hitting occasional boundaries to maintain the run rate. Rishabh Pant also could not capitalize on the chance.
He got off to a good start but failed to convert it into a big innings. Shadab got his second scalp of the day as Pant holed out to Asif Ali. Both Pant and Dinesh Karthik are in contention for keeping the wicket at the T20 World Cup in Australia. Hardik Pandya was dismissed for a duck, leaving India in tatters with six overs remaining.