Pallekele: The much-awaited Asia Cup faceoff between India and Pakistan Asia Cup was called off due to intermittent rains at Pallekele Cricket Stadium here on Saturday.
Both teams shared a point each, but Pakistan stormed into the Super-Four Stage of the tournament without sweating too much with the bat, and their pacers had a good outing against top Indian batsmen.
Pakistan are topping Group A with 3 points, and India are standing second with a point. Nepal is yet to open an account.
Fans were disappointed with such a finish, but were happy to go back home with the memories of Hardik Pandya and Ishan Kishan’s classic fifties, and the fiery bowling of Pakistani pacers. Leading the pack were Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf, who together bagged all 10 wickets.
With overcast conditions hovering over the stadium, both captains were keen on batting first, but Rohit Sharma called the toss right and opted to bat.
India were on the backfoot immediately, tottering at 66/4 but India fought back with a fantastic 138-run partnership between Kishan and Hardik. Kishan slammed 82 off 81 balls and Hardik cracked 87 off 90 balls with 7 boundaries and a six. In this period, Pakistan allowed India to recover with their spinners looking flat and the fielding sloppy.
The wicket-keeper batsman paced his innings nicely by mixing aggression and caution, while Hardik was on a roll with his flat-batted hits square of the wicket.
Kishan got to his fifty in 54 balls after ambling across for a single off Shadab Khan in the 29th over, collecting 6 boundaries and a six along the way.
This was an excellent reply by him when Pakistani pacers had dismissed top four Indian batsmen including Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in 15 overs. This was also Kishan’s fourth ODI fifty on the trot and his seventh overall in the format.
Hardik completed his fifty in 62 balls with three boundaries as his partnership with Kishan crossed the century mark, taking India to 187/4 in 36 overs. This was his 11th ODI fifty.
Haris Rauf eventually broke the century stand by sending back Kishan who cracked 9 boundaries and 2 sixes.
Hardik, however, did not stop and stepped up gas after Kishan’s dismissal. Just when the Gujarat lad looked to build yet another partnership with Ravindra Jadeja, Shaheen Afridi removed them in the same over.
India were reduced to 266 all out from 239/5.
Shaheen scalped 4 wickets, while Rauf and Naseem Shah picked 3 wickets each to curb India getting to 300 runs mark as it looked possible when Hardik and Kishan were going great guns.
After winning the toss, India were soon in a spot of bother as they lost four wickets in the span two rain breaks in the first innings.
India lost Shubman Gill for 10 off 32 balls, cleaned up by Rauf who had an impressive-looking Shreyas Iyer, who was making a comeback into the playing XI after an injury.
After the first rain break, Shaheen sent back Rohit and Virat Kohli in consecutive overs. And Haris Rauf had an impressive-looking Shreyas Iyer, who was making a comeback into the playing XI after an injury.
Shreyas was out caught by Fakhar Zaman who had dropped Rohit in the very first over of the match for 14 off 9 balls, leaving India in a deep hole at 48/3 in 9.5 overs.
Rohit lost his wicket after he was cleaned up by Shaheen for 11, and Kohli fell to the same bowler, chopping on to his stumps for 4.
Pakistan are coming into the match after beating minnows Nepal comprehensively in the tournament opener, and for India this is the opener. If Pakistan wins today’s match, they will qualify for the round-robin contest.
Pakistan fielded an unchanged team, while India drafted in Shardul Thakur ahead of Mohammed Shami and included Shreyas, who came into the side after recovering from an injury.