S. SOORAJ | 25th October 2021

The words I never thought would actually leave me my keyboard have finally made their way to the headlines.

“Pakistan defeat India by 10 wickets.”

13-1; the history books will read this as not only India’s first loss to Pakistan in a World Cup, but possibly the most damning defeat. Babar Azam and his boys have done the unthinkable, letting millions start dreaming as their perennial rivals weren’t vanquished, they were annihilated.

Let’s call a spade a spade- the Indians were completely outclassed by a near-perfect display from Pakistan, who excelled in all the departments.

With this demolition job against the T20 World Cup favorites, the Pakistan side has made it clear to everyone that they have every right to lay their hands on the World Cup for the 2nd time.

Let’s take a look at the 4 talking points from a historic contest in possibly the most unbelievable day of sport.

1. The Babar-Rizwan duo is here to stay

A pair that is firmly placed amongst some of the best T20 batsmen in the world currently, Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan pulled off a masterclass, decimating the Indian bowling attack from the word, ‘go’.

A duo as deadly as they come, you’d struggle to spot a speck of doubt in their intent from the off.

The pair got off to a flyer and started as they mean to go on, putting on an unreal 152- run stand. History was etched as Pakistan bossed their way to their first-ever 10-wicket victory in a T20 game.

Be it smashing the ball to every corner or finding the gaps constantly, Babar and Rizwan were splendid against what is an elite bowling attack.

While this pair never needed an introduction to anyone that lives and breathes the gentleman’s game, their obliteration will make for stories to tell your grandkids for a proud Pakistan.

2. The return of vintage Virat is inevitable

Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant were the only batsmen on the Indian side to face over 15 deliveries against the fearless Pakistani bowling unit.

While Pant went out for a careless shot, despite a top-notch knock with the situation in hand, the skipper saw the side through to 150 runs with a watchful 57 off 49 balls.

While the numbers don’t quite make for the best reading in T20 cricket, King Kohli was sacrificial and as clichés go, stepped up with a captain’s knock.

We’ve fallen in love with Virat Kohli for over a decade to know this wasn’t vintage. And with an isolated six to show for, you can say that yourselves.

And to add to this sentiment, this was similar to the Kohli we have just witnessed in the IPL, as he was struggling to deliver boundary-scoring sprees for RCB as well. Quite the opposite of his usual self, picking the spaces between fielders with aplomb.

However, this was a trailer of how brilliant Kohli can be and this might just be the beginning of a much-needed turnaround which is the best piece of news for India in UAE.

3. File this under “classic”, courtesy of Shaheen Shah Afridi

Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammed Asif, Mohammed Amir. Add Shaheen Shah Afridi to this list of legendary quicks who have tormented India.

From ball one, the towering paceman sent Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul back to the pavilion within the powerplay. Afridi just didn’t stop there and delivered once again in the 19th over of the game by dismissing a settled Virat Kohli.

Sending three of India’s finest top-order batsmen for a walk of shame is as good as it gets.

Add to that, the 24-year old was pitted against a stacked Indian batting order that have had the best practice in the form of the IPL.

Shaheen Shah Afridi couldn’t give a toss, however.

With the No.10 on his back, his last name and the flamboyant celebration with his two arms pointed to sky, Shaheen rolled the years back to a certain Pakistani legends who has given Indians fans a few sleepless nights over the years.


4. Is Pandya worth a spot as a specialist batter?

Heading into this tournament, there was a lot of speculation about Hardik Pandya’s place in the Indian line-up. His form with the bat was uninspiring and his back injury has restricted him from chipping in with the ball.

For perspective, Pandya was a shoo-in into the Indian line-up a year ago as the side’s most important pace-bowling all-rounder.

Now with him taking off from his bowling duties, can India go into games with a Hardik Pandya who is simple just an out-of-form batter?

Especially with the high-flying Ishan Kishan in the dugout.

Pandya was in terrible touch, scoring just 11 runs off his 8 balls, failing to meet the ball clearly on a number of occasions.

On top of that, his lack of contribution with the ball forced Jadeja to bowl four overs, even on days where he has taken a day off from being majestic.

Be it an aggressive batter in Ishan Kishan or a clutch pace-bowling all-rounder in Shardul Thakur, both of these options tick more boxes than Hardik Pandya who is far from his electric best at the minute.