- Hardik scored 33* off 17 deliveries at a strike rate of 194.12
- The Gujarat Titans skipper scalped 3 wickets in his quota of 4 overs
- Pandya was later awarded with the “Man of the Match” trophy
IND vs PAK: India and Pakistan matches are never just any ordinary cricketing match. There is a rich legacy, a rich sporting tradition that both these countries share. For many years now, Indo-Pak clashes have been more than contests to cricketing fans. It is a celebration that either ends in misery or joy. This time around it wasn’t anything different. With Pakistan defeating India in the 2021 edition of the World T20Is, the onus of winning the opening match of the Asia Cup was pretty high on team India. The pressure was on the men in blue and how they responded is something that will be remembered for ages.
The match coincidentally was being played at the Dubai International Stadium, the same venue where India had clashed with Pakistan in the T20I World Cup way back in 2021. This time around skipper Rohit Sharma won the toss and decided to field first. Riding high on the back of his red-hot form, Babar Azam walked out along with his deputy Mohammed Rizwan. Team India executed their short ball ploy to perfection which left the Pakistan batsmen clueless and begging for runs. Hardik Pandya bowled his entire quota of four overs and conceded only 25 runs. In the process, Pandya also scalped the wickets of Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Rizwan, and Iftikhar Ahmed. This broke Pakistan’s back and they were bundled out just for 147 runs which looked like an easy total, but things certainly did unfold differently altogether.
When India came out to bat, high hopes were pinned on KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma. Debutant Naseem Shah sent Rahul packing and left Rohit stranded at the other end. The likes of Sharma and Kohli too couldn’t make any notable impact and India was left reeling at 53/3. Riding high on the backs of his IPL title victory and a wonderful show with the young Indian team in Ireland, Pandya rose to the occasion and did not let the pressure of a high-intensity encounter get to his head. He stitched a solid 52 runs partnership which steadied India’s ship in troubled waters. The Baroda-based allrounder scored a sublime 33 off 17 deliveries with 4 boundaries and 1 six to his name. With a staggering strike rate of 194.12, Pandya singlehandedly won the game for India and was adjudged the man of the match.
This is the year of the ICC T20I World Cup and India will look to win the fabled World Cup for the second time. Hardik Pandya returning to full fitness and contributing to India’s cause both with the bat and ball will give a huge boost to the Indian team and will certainly improve their chances of winning the World Cup.