By Tapan Mohanta
Mirpur, Mar 2: India paid the price for costly blunders at crucial junctures to suffer a nerve-wracking one-wicket defeat at the hands of arch rivals Pakistan, who rode on Shahid Afridi’s brilliant cameo to virtually assure themselves a berth in the final of the Asia Cup here tonight.
In a tense encounter where fortunes fluctuating from one team to other till very end saw Afridi the turn the game decisively in Pakistan’s favour by hitting successive sixes in Ravichandran Ashwin’s last over to overhaul India’s modest total of 245.
Afridi, who has been very inconsistent with the bat hit the first six over deep extra cover and the next over long on as he scored 34 not out in only 18 balls with two fours and three sixes.
Dinesh Karthik’s woeful work behind the stumps again cost India dearly as he missed the easiest of stumpings when Ashwin fired one down leg side with Sohaib Maqsood (38), then batting on 21 coming out of charge. Karthik failed to gather the ball and missed the stumping with Pakistan on 167 for four.
Mohammed Hafeez (75) and Maqsood added 87 runs for the fifth wicket and after IPL’s new million dollar man Karthik fluffed his lines, they added another 37 runs which proved to be important in the context of the game.
From 200 for four, Pakistan slumped to 203 for six but then winners had couple of profitable couple of overs —45th and 46th when Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar went for 13 runs each.
Hafeez for his all-round show (two for 34 and 75) rightly got the man of the match award. Hafeez’s innings had three fours and two nicely hit sixes including a pulled one off Mohammed Shami’s bowling.
With this defeat, India’s chances of making it to the finals are all but dashed while a Pakistan versus Sri Lanka summit clash looks imminent.