Dubai: When the match was tilted in India’s favour, Pakistan’s Mohammad Nawaz blasted a 20-ball 42 to put the Indian bowling under pressure. That helped Pakistan to notch a victory in the DP World Asia Cup Super 4 clash at the Dubai International Stadium yesterday.
“Game-changing innings by Mohammad Nawaz. We were expecting an anchoring knock from Babar Azam or Mohammad Rizwan, but Nawaz played an impactful innings that put us under pressure,” former India captain Virat Kohli said.
Nawaz loves to excel under pressure. When the Indian batters were scoring at a fast pace, he arrested the run flow with his left-arm spin and took a good catch to dismiss the dangerous Hardik Pandya, India’s match-winner in the previous game.
Sticking to basics
“For a left-arm spinner, it’s important to stick to the basic line and length. If one or two balls turn, that puts doubt into the batters’ minds. After that, I try and stick to line and length,” Nawaz told the official broadcaster Star Sports during the prize presentation.
The all-rounder saved his best for the last when he walked into bat at a difficult situation when Pakistan needed 10 runs per over.
“I knew I had to attack every chance I got. My mind was clear that I’d hit out at every ball in my zone. I didn’t try and overplay, which you sometimes can when you’re under pressure.”
Nawaz and Rizwan added a 73-run partnership in under seven overs to set up Pakistan’s nail-biting five-wicket win with a ball to spare that brought the packed stadium to a standstill. The victory put Pakistan in pole position for a place in the final of the continental showpiece.
Pakistan were slow at the start of the innings, but the in-form Rizwan held the innings together with a measured knock of 71 and found an able ally in Nawaz, who plundered the Indian attack, bringing Pakistan on level terms at the 15-over stage. Despite losing wickets towards the end, Pakistan had momentum.
“I thought they [India] had an edge after the way they utilised the powerplay overs. But the [Pakistan] bowlers came back to restrict them. Nawaz and Rizwan’s partnership was outstanding. I thought Nawaz could exceed because they had two leg-spinners operating, so we spent them up. Our spinners and fast bowlers at the death set the stage for us,” Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said, prasing the match-winner, who has now taken Pakistan one step closer to the final.