How India can dissolve the Shaheen Shah Afridi threat in Indo-Pak clashes? In a match that featured some of the biggest superstars in world cricket, there was only one name that reigned supreme – Afridi. The pace spearhead of the Green Army bagged not one but two prized scalps in the rain-marred contest between the traditional rivals at the Asia Cup 2023 on Saturday.
Pacer Afridi first bamboozled Indian skipper Rohit Sharma. He then outsmarted Virat Kohli, who had just brought out his signature cover drive to highlight his form in the previous over. The premier pacer of the two-time Asia Cup winners had silenced the Indian supporters at a packed Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Sri Lanka.
‘Bowling changes didn’t make any sense’
Though Afridi owned the Indian top-order with his bowling masterclass, legendary cricketer Sunil Gavaskar is still not convinced that Babar Azam’s Pakistan side played their cards right against rivals India at the continental tournament. Talking about the blockbuster India-Pakistan showdown, batting legend Gavaskar opined that the bowling changes of Babar didn’t make any sense to him.
“I think the bowling changes didn’t make any sense because if you have three bowlers, the pace bowlers have taken the early wickets, you want to keep at least one ongoing from one end. I know that you can’t really go through long spells, but one person could have been bowling from one end and Shadab or Nawaz from the other end,” Gavaskar told India Today.
‘India will be saying a big thank you because…’
Suggesting Babar clearly missed a trick in India’s Asia Cup opener, Gavaskar observed that Rohit and Co. managed to stage a fightback after a top-order collapse. Middle-order stars Hardik Pandya and Ishan Kishan smashed half-centuries to help India register a fighting total. Pandya and Kishan’s fifth-wicket stand was worth 138 runs off 141 balls.
Batting icon Gavaskar claimed that India would have struggled to cross the 200-run mark if the Pakistani pacers had dismissed either Pandya or Kishan earlier in the innings. When Afridi returned to dismiss Pandya for 87 off 90 balls, the Kishan-starer side had already scored 239 runs in 43 overs.“I mean India will be saying a big thank you because that’s what allowed the partnership to flourish because otherwise, if one of the pacers had taken just that one wicket between Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya, then maybe India would have struggled to reach even 175, 200,” Gavaskar added.