After starting brightly with the bat, Eoin Morgan’s men were caught in a web of spin before being restricted to 159-8 in their 20 overs. In reply, India were simply too good with KL Rahul’s unbeaten ton ensuring a comfortable victory for the visitors.
Here, we look at the three things learned from India’s big win at Old Trafford.
CAN’T DROP KL RAHUL
The transformation in Rahul’s batting in the past few months has been nothing short of brilliant. The right-hander was on fire in IPL 2018 where he scored 659 runs at an average of nearly 55 and a strike-rate of over 158.
That form saw him recalled into India’s limited-overs setup but Rahul had to wait his turn after not being picked in the playing XI for the first T20 against Ireland. He was brought in for the second T20 and has not looked back since with splendid knocks of 70 and 101 not out.
His T20I average is now a staggering 55.91 after 17 matches and in this form, Rahul has to be permanent name in the teamsheet for India’s T20 and ODI clashes. Everything about his batting screams confidence at the moment and India would do well to cash in on his purple patch.
INDIA ARE NO AUSTRALIA
Former England skipper Nasser Hussain was chastening in his criticism of the hosts after their loss on Tuesday. Lambasting Morgan’s men for their sorry display, the 50-year-old said that England’s true test will be how they fare against the Indians rather than a ‘second string’ Australia side.
The Englishman might well be right with the current Indian side looking like the biggest challengers for the hosts when they stage the World Cup at home next year.
With an impressive batting line-up, bolstered by the in-form Rahul, and their array of wrist-spinners Virat Kohli‘s men will be a tough nut to crack for England despite their 6-0 dismantling of the Aussies across limited-overs formats the last month.
Whoever wins the battle should be seen as the early favourites for the World Cup next year.
WRIST-SPIN IS INDIA’S TRUMP CARD
On Tuesday, they handled Chahal fairly comfortably but were completely undone by Kuldeep’s devastating spell of 5-24. The youngster, playing against England for the first time, became the first left-arm wrist-spinner to claim five wickets in the T20I format. England batsmen had no idea how to handle his variations, especially the wrong one.
His five scalps – Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root – are as big they come in international cricket. His dismissals of Bairstow and Root in particular were outstanding with both failing to pick Kuldeep’s googly.
With his performance on Tuesday, the challenge has been thrown to England’s batsmen. How they handle of the wrist-spinners will be the defining battle of both the T20 and ODI series. Round one has gone to Kuldeep and Co but can England hit back? We will find out soon enough.
The Men in Green elected to field first after skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and managed to restrict Zimbabwe to 162-4 in their 20 overs. In reply, Pakistan looked to be comfortable for the most part of the chase and got home ultimately with five balls to spare.
The win means Pakistan and Australia have assured themselves of a place in Sunday’s final though the two sides still have to meet in the final round-robin clash.
Here, we take a look at the key talking points from Pakistan’s win.
MIRE FALLS AGNONISINGLY SHORT OF TON
After Zimbabwe’s two defeats prior to Wednesday’s clash, Solomon Mire had spoken about the need for his side to apply themselves better. That is exactly what the Zimbabwe opener did as he took the attack to Pakistan’s bowlers.
The right-hander was watchful but belligerent when he needed to be as he found the boundaries at regular intervals with some crisp shot-making.
The 28-year-old was on course to slam a maiden T20I ton by a Zimbabwe batsman before he was cruelly dismissed on 94 by part-timer Hussain Talat in the penultimate over.
However, his 94-run knock is the highest score by a Zimbabwe batsman in T20 Internationals, beating the previous best of 93 by skipper Hamilton Masakadza.
AMIR GETS SOLID WORKOUT ON RETURN
Pakistan pace spearhead Mohammad Amir was back in the side after sitting out of the opening two matches of the tournament. The 26-year-old replaced Usman Khan in the line-up and found his rhythm straight away with a probing first over.
While Mire gave Zimbabwe’s innings some momentum, Amir was able to keep things tight at his end. The Pakistan pacer deservedly got his name in the wicket-taking column with his final over after having the well-set Tarisai Musakanda caught at long-on.
The left-arm quick’s solid workout with figures of 1-25 on Wednesday augurs well for Pakistan before they take on Australia in the final of the tournament.
HUSSAIN TALAT FINDS FORM
While Amir’s workout was a big positive from Pakistan’s win, they had another reason to celebrate with young Hussain Talat finding some form with the bat. After using his part-time bowling to good effect by dismissing Mire, Talat finally went past the 20-run mark for the first time in five T20I innings as he set up Pakistan’s chase beautifully.
Looking to play with positive intent from the very first ball, the left-hander looked fluent as he kept the runs ticking at pace.
He led Pakistan’s chase following the departure of Fakhar Zaman and looked set for a well deserved half-century before he was dismissed by Chris Mpofu for a 35-ball 44 in the 18th over of the innings.
SHOAIB MALIK FINISHES THE JOB FOR PAKISTAN
When Talat fell in the 18th over, Pakistan still required 25 runs in 16 balls. However, those slim hopes were quickly dashed when Shoaib Malik strode in and immediately got to work.
The veteran Pakistan batsman started off his innings with two boundaries and a double to firmly bring the match back in Pakistan’s favour.
Malik had recently become the first player in history to complete a century of T20I appearances and he showed all his experience to steer Pakistan home along with Sarfraz. His unbeaten cameo of 12 (6) was just the catalyst the visitors needed in a tricky situation at the death.
Zimbabwe and Pakistan will lock horns in the fourth match of the T20 tri-series at Harare Sports Club on Wednesday. Both sides have tasted comprehensive losses to Australia in their last outings before this game.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to bowl first. The visitors have made a couple of changes from their nine-wicket loss to Australia with Mohammad Amir and Haris Sohail replacing Usman Khan and Mohammad Hafeez respectively.
Zimbabwe openers Solomon Mire and Cephas Zhuwao have given the hosts a solid start after collecting 46 runs without the loss of a wicket in the first six overs. Faheem Ashraf broke the opening stand by removing Zhuwao but Mire is still going strong and has slammed a 32-ball half-century. Shadab Khan them removed Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakadza but a 94-run knock from Mire saw Zimbabwe post 162-4 in their 20 overs.
In reply, Pakistan openers Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail started in a positive manner and added 58 runs for the first wicket before the latter was dismissed by Wellington Masakadza. Fakhar departed for a well-made 47 before Hussain Talat and Sarfraz took control of the Pakistan innings. Talat fell in the 18th over for a 35-ball 44 with Pakistan still needing 25 runs for a win in 16 balls. Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz ensured the visitors crossed the finish line with five balls to spare ultimately with unbeaten cameos.
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