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Pakistan squander solid start as India claim T20 thriller
Jun 10, 2024 01:20 pm

Divya Delhi: Naseem Shah walked off the pitch with tears in his eyes, consoled by his partner Shaheen Shah Afridi. A few overs earlier, they wouldn't have even thought they'd be out, trying to bat Pakistan to victory against arch-rivals India. But in the end, they lost a game they'd dominated for three quarters of the way; their rivals coming in clutch in the closing stages to seal a six-run victory that left the T20 World Cup hopes of Babar Azam's men hanging by the slimmest of threads. Pacer Jasprit Bumrah was the architect of India's stunning victory, returning figures of 3-14 to help his side defend a paltry 120 and send scores of their fans, who had packed the Nassau County International Stadium, wild with joy. Initially, Pakistan seemed to be destined to win this one; Babar's unit looking a far cry from the team that had stunningly fallen against USA in their opener.The pace battery had come good just when it was most needed, with Naseem (3-21), Haris Rauf (3-21) and Mohammad Amir (2-23) slicing through India's star-studded batting line- up in the first inning. India folded for 119 with an over to spare, and Pakistan had their tails up, only for their familiar failings to catch up with them in the end. "We had too much to do in the end," rued Babar, whose side now play Canada and Ireland in their remaining Group 'A' matches. "We were not up to the mark." A festive crowd had let out a huge roar once the match finally got underway under overcast conditions after a rain delay, which had also pushed back the toss by half an hour. Indian captain Rohit Sharma, though, quickly rebounded from losing the toss and dispatched Shaheen for six on the third ball before the showers came again at the end of the first over. Once play resumed, Virat Kohli drove Naseem for four; the Indian fans going up in cheers. But the Pakistan fans were roaring two balls later when Kohli found Usman Khan at point. More celebrations came in the next over when Shaheen had Sharma caught on the square leg fence. But after a teasing over by Amir, Axar Patel (20) cut loose, getting a four and six off consecutive balls by Shaheen. A Pant edge off Amir flew past Iftikhar Ahmed at first slip and he got another lucky escape next ball when Usman couldn't grasp a running catch. Pant was barely surviving with another edge flying over the slip for four as India ended the Powerplay at 50-2. Naseem, however, returned to the attack and cleaned up Patel. Pant got another let-off soon after with Usman not being able to reach after the left-hander had skied spinner Imad Wasim.