Calcutta: It’s imperative to not only have a Plan B, but a Plan C, too, in T20. The pace, after all, is such that the script can change quicker than Usain Bolt’s fastest sprint.
Pakistan had absolutely nothing to fall back on in the high-pressure game against India and kept intact the dubious record of not being able to defeat their neighbours in a tournament bearing the World label.
India needed full points to stay afloat in the 2012 World Twenty20 and they opened their Super Eights accounts in fabulous manner. Winning with three overs remaining is, well, massive.
That being the margin, the captains, seasoned Mahendra Singh Dhoni and inexperienced Mohammed Hafeez, had to have a vastly different day. Dhoni’s moves came off, but Hafeez’s gambles failed.
Using Yuvraj Singh as the fifth bowler and dropping Harbhajan Singh to bring back Lakshmipathy Balaji worked for Dhoni; inserting India and promoting Shahid Afridi to No.3 didn’t click for Hafeez.
With Afridi, it’s a hit or miss affair. More often than not, it’s the latter, and has been so for 16 years.
Dhoni did go back to four specialist bowlers, but that’s because he’s most comfortable with seven batsmen. The XI keeps changing as he’s firm on a horses-for-courses policy, a feature of his captaincy in this tournament.
Despite an awful first over from Zaheer Khan, which cost 13 runs, India looked up for the challenge. Pakistan’s batsmen appeared edgy and the occasion seemed to overwhelm them.
The pressure in an India-Pakistan match is enormous, so being strong in the mind is as critical as being skilled on the park. Pakistan were found wanting on both fronts.
Also, Hafeez’s inexperience as captain showed. He ought to have attacked, instead of hoping for India’s batsmen to make mistakes.
A team with seven batsmen, plus Irfan Pathan and Ravichandran Ashwin, is unlikely to be pushed hard in chasing 129. With MoM Virat Kohli continuing his phenomenal run, India got to the target quicker than most expected.
Not many days ago, Australia’s coach Mickey Arthur told The Telegraph that, in Kohli, “India had an unbelievable player.” It’s an assessment which is going to be endorsed by everybody.
Kohli himself said: “The key is to stay as calm as possible... I was in my normal zone today and tried to relax... God’s been kind.”
Six months ago, Kohli toyed with Pakistan’s bowling in the Asia Cup (Dhaka). After getting yet another MoM award against Pakistan, he declared “it can’t get better than this.”
The 23-year-old is known to party hard, but works even harder. Barring injuries, he’s set for real big things.
Had Pakistan won, both India and South Africa would have been knocked out. Now, all are in with a chance to make the semi-finals.
India deserve kudos in plenty as they’d been hammered by Australia 48 hours earlier. Pakistan, on the other hand, failed to build on the momentum provided by their incredible victory over South Africa.
Pakistan got thrashed, but they can take comfort in young Raza Hasan’s performance — the left-arm spinner from Sialkot was most impressive. He’s one to watch out for.