Melbourne : Fiery and top bowling spells by Hardik Pandya and Arshdeep Singh helped India restrict arch-rival Pakistan to 159/8 in the high-voltage clash of the Super 12 stage of the ongoing ICC Men's T20 World Cup at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne on Sunday.
For India, Arshdeep Singh bagged three wickets Hardik Pandya returned with a stunning figure of 3-30. Shan Masood top-scored for Pakistan with 52 not out while Iftikhar Ahmed played a crucial knock of 51 runs.
Opted to bowl first, Bhuvneshwar Kumar's fiery bowling gave an excellent start to India as he restricted Pakistan batters from scoring runs. In the second over of the innings, Pakistan suffered a huge blow as their star batter Babar Azam was sent packing for a first-ball duck by Arshdeep Singh without scoring a run.
New batter Shan Masood then came out to bat. In the fourth over of the innings, Arshdeep struck again as he dismissed Pakistan opener Mohammad Rizwan for 4 runs off 12 deliveries, leaving Men in Green tottering at 15-2. Arshdeep Singh the left-arm pacer removed both the Pakistani openers inside the powerplay to provide India with the upper hand in the match.
Iftikhar Ahmed then came out to bat. Iftikhar and Masood both opened their hands and slammed boundaries at regular intervals. After the powerplay, Pakistan's score read 32-2.
Despite being under pressure the duo of Iftikhar and Masood took their team's total beyond the 50-run mark in the 9th over of the game. After 10 overs of the game, Pakistan's score read 60/2.
Iftikhar shifted gears and slammed back-to-back two huge sixes, hammering Axar Patel for 21 runs in the 12th over of the innings. While slamming the Indian bowlers all around the ground Iftikhar brought up his half-century in 32 deliveries.
Mohammed Shami was brought back into the attack and he removed dangerman Iftikhar for 51 off 34. Pakistan's 76-run stand for the third wicket was finally broken.
Shadab Khan then came to the crease but the batter could not do much as he was sent back to the pavilion by Hardik Pandya after scoring 5 runs off 6 balls in the 14th over. In the same over Pandya struck again as he dismissed the new batter, Haider Ali, for 2 runs, the Pakistani batter was caught out by Suryakumar Yadav.
Mohammad Nawaz welcomed Pandya's spell with a stunning four, however, his stint tint was cut short after scoring just 9 runs in 6 deliveries. At this point, Pakistan kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Arshdeep then delivered a stunning delivery to remove Asif Ali who was caught behind the wicket by Dinesh Karthik.
While hammering Indian bowlers all around the ground Shan Masood brought up his third T20I fifty in 40 balls. In the penultimate over of the innings, Shaheen Afridi slammed one four and one six on the delivery of Arshdeep.
In the last over, Bhuvneshwar sent Afridi packing after scoring 16 runs in 8 deliveries. New batter Haris Rauf then came to bat and he slammed a huge six to guide his team to a competitive total of 159/8 in 20 overs.
Brief score: Pakistan 159/8 (Shan Masood 52*, Iftikhar Ahmed 51; Hardik Pandya 3-30) vs India