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5 reasons India was better than Pakistan in the 2018 Asia Cup

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India_Pakistan_players_cricketThroughout the 1990s, Pakistan always had the upper hand in battles with India in ODIs. Not only did they have a better team, they also had the psychological ascendancy over India, particularly at Sharjah. However, India have always had the better of the exchanges at ICC events.

When the two teams met in a league match of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy at Edgbaston, India trounced Pakistan by 124 runs. In the final, Pakistan returned the favor with interest, annihilating India by 180 runs.

When the two teams were scheduled to meet in the Asia Cup in the UAE, Pakistan were considered the favorites for a number of reasons. The first was that they were used to playing in the UAE, their new home ground. Secondly, India were rusty and were just coming from England where the conditions were markedly different. Thirdly, India was without Virat Kohli.

In spite of this, India have decimated Pakistan in the two meetings in this Asia Cup. Here are 5 reasons why India have vanquished Pakistan in the tournament so far.

Mohammad Amir’s inability to provide breakthroughs with the new ball

Amir is one of the best fast bowlers in the world. He bowls at a brisk pace and gets the new ball to swing both ways. In the Champions Trophy final, he ended the match virtually in the first 10 overs by getting rid of India’s top 3 batsmen with a brilliant display of swing bowling. That broke the back of India’s batting and they were never in the game.

In this tournament, Amir has been way short of his best. In the two matches against India, he conceded 64 runs off his 11 overs without taking a single wicket. This enabled India to bat without any pressure and overhaul Pakistan’s target with ease in both ODIs.

Fakhar Zaman’s loss of form has led to Pakistan being slow off the blocks

During the Champions Trophy final, Zaman made the most of his reprieve due to Jasprit Bumrah’s no ball, scoring 114 off 106 balls to bat India out of the contest. In this tournament, he seemed to be caught in 2 minds as to whether to play cautiously and protect his wicket, or stick to his strength, which is going after the bowling.

The pitches in this tournament have been on the slower side, taking a lot of turn, and the ideal tactic would have been to exploit the field restrictions in the first Power Play. In the first game, Zaman tried to pull a delivery from Bhuvneshwar Kumar that wasn’t short enough. In the Super Four game, he fell over trying to sweep a delivery from Kuldeep Yadav which was too full for that shot. His coach’s instruction to be more judicious in his shot selection has led to a cluttered mind and he failed to provide an electrifying start in either of the 2 matches.

India’s wrist spinners spinning a web around Pakistan’s batsmen

Ever since the Champions Trophy, India realised that Ravichandran Ashwin’s off spin and Ravindra Jadeja’s left arm spin were not getting them wickets in the middle overs, so they invested in the wrist spin of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.

In the Champions Trophy final, Ashwin and Jadeja bowled 18 overs for 137 runs, conceding at 7.6 runs per over as Pakistan scored 191 runs in overs 11 to 40, scoring at 6.36 runs an over. Moreover, they did not take a single wicket. In the 2 ODIs in the Asia Cup, the spinners bowled a combined 55 overs for 251 runs, conceding at just 4.56 runs per over and picked up 8 wickets. This has made a huge difference as it has led to Pakistan posting below par scores.

Strange tactics by Pakistan’s skipper with not enough runs on the board

Pakistan’s strength is their bowling. They have a plethora of quality left arm quicks. In the Champions Trophy final, Kohli erred by putting Pakistan in to bat and they batted India out of the contest.

Sarfraz has had no hesitation in opting to bat in both the matches in the Asia Cup, reasoning that they can put enough runs on the board, and use their strength and depth in bowling to put pressure on India. Moreover, Pakistan are poor chasers.

However, all the commentators agreed that the pitches in Dubai are very slow initially and speed up a bit under lights as the ball comes on to the bat. One could understand Sarfraz’s decision in the first ODI but he should have definitely sent India in to bat in the 2nd ODI. Even with Pakistan’s variety in bowling, the fact that they ended up with below par totals did not even give their bowlers a chance to influence the game.

Jasprit Bumrah’s outstanding bowling at the death

It has not even been 3 years since Bumrah made his international debut for India and he is already being called the best death bowler in world cricket. In the two matches combined he conceded just 52 runs off 17.1 overs and took 4 wickets. He bowled the yorker almost at will and was almost impossible to collar at the death.

During the ODI at the Super Four stage, Pakistan were in a reasonable position after 43 overs at 199/4. Bumrah conceded just 16 runs in his last 4 overs. Pakistan were strangled and scored just 40 runs in the last 7 overs. Even for an accomplished death bowler to concede just 4 runs per over at the death is a stupendous achievement. Pakistan’s batsmen couldn’t even score a single boundary off his bowling at the death. This shows how Bumrah has grown in leaps and bounds.

 

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