India vs Pakistan: Hard lessons for Rohit Sharma in Asia Cup 2022

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Mohd Rizwan - TheSportingHub
Mohd Rizwan (in pic, 71 of 51 deliveries, six boundaries, two sixes) and Mohd Nawaz never let the Indian bowlers settle down in the Super4 match of the Asia Cup on Sunday. Photo: circleofcricket.com

India’s Asia Cup 2022 campaign suffered the first reverse, that too at the hands of old rivals Pakistan, when the former’s lack of bowling strength was exposed in no uncertain terms.

With the medium-pacers just about holding their own, the Indian spinners were quite average as the Pakistan batters kept up with what was beginning to look like a stiff asking rate to pull off a win and level the challenge between the two teams to one match apiece. India skipper Rohit Sharma always knew that his bowling was thin and tried to win the match with batting alone. Unfortunately, that plan too didn’t really come good.

 

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India were sent in to bat and Pakistan captain Babar Azam must have assumed that his pace battery, led by Naseem Shah, would run through the top order and more. But Sharma and KL Rahul really waded into the relatively inexperienced fast bowlers and India were galloping along, with a 200-plus score looking very much on the cards.

But that was not to be. Neither lasted long enough and Virat Kohli got precious little support from the middle-order and India eventually finished at an underwhelming 181, that too thanks to two fielding howlers at the fence by Fakhar Zaman.

 

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The Indian bowling was more about containment than any real penetration, and though Azam once more gave away his wicket, fellow-opener Mohammad Rizwan was in fine nick and the promotion of left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz to No. 4 was a stroke of genius for Pakistan.

 

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These two, while invariably facing a 10-plus asking rate, never let go of the momentum with Nawaz’s 42 (20 balls, six boundaries, two sixes) making a massive difference.

Rizwan (71 of 51 deliveries, six boundaries, two sixes) and Nawaz never let the Indian bowlers settle, with Hardik Pandya and a very off-form looking Yuzvendra Chahal going for big runs.

Even the rest of the bowling, including Bhuvneshwar Kumar, suffered towards the end of the inning and when Arshdeep Singh dropped a simple catch off late in the Pakistan innings, India were looking down the barrel.

It was thanks to some late wickets that Pakistan went down to the second-last ball of the inning, but they largely had things sewn up by then.

It was an abject lesson on how lean the Indian bowling is in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and even the likes of Harshal Patel and Deepak Chahar.

Hopefully, most or all will be back in harness before the T20 World Cup. Otherwise, India and Rohit will have some serious problems, and not just in the Asia Cup.

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