India defeated Pakistan in a nail-biter of an Asia Cup 2022 match in Dubai on Sunday. Here are our five takeaways from the match:

1- Pak-India T20 cricket has become too toss dependent

Cricket, perhaps, remains one of the few sports where toss matters so much. The eventual outcome of the game can be hugely influenced by a pre-game flip of a coin.

Of the 10 T20Is played between Pakistan and India, the side batting first has won just twice, which shows that chasing is clearly the way to go. Rarely does a captain win the toss and opt to bat first.

The last time this happened in a Pak-India T20, the year was September 2012 and Mohammad Hafeez was the skipper who had opted to bat first despite winning the toss. It was the wrong call and Pakistan ended up losing by eight wickets that night.

On Sunday, the luck was in favour of India, just as it was in Pakistan’s favour last year. Rohit Sharma won the toss and did not even bother to announce what his decision was — probably because in his mind it was obvious what he was going to opt for. Not to take away anything from India, but that coin flip set the tone for the entire night, just the way it usually does in these ties.

Toss is a grand cricket tradition but maybe now is the time that cricket administrators would want to work out a better system as its replacement. That’s because as of right now, the mantra pretty much is: win the toss, bat second and you’re almost guaranteed to win the match.

Indian (L) and Pakistani players arrive at the field during the Asia Cup Twenty20 international cricket Group A match between India and Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on Sunday. — AFP
Indian (L) and Pakistani players arrive at the field during the Asia Cup Twenty20 international cricket Group A match between India and Pakistan at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on Sunday. — AFP

2- Pakistan’s weakness against short balls exposed

The troglodytes among Pakistan fans would know that their beloved team’s vulnerability against short, rising balls has existed since times immemorial.

That weakness makes sense too, since Pakistan batters do not get any bouncy tracks at home, and so anything short and they act like fish out of water. The Indian think tank spotted that the Dubai track was unlike a typical Dubai wicket and had something for the pacers.

The Indian bowlers kept their lengths short and brilliantly exploited the Pakistani weakness. It was a perfectly executed plan that deserves all the praises.

India's Bhuvneshwar Kumar unsuccessfully appeals for a LBW against Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan during the Asia Cup Twenty20 international. — AFP
India’s Bhuvneshwar Kumar unsuccessfully appeals for a LBW against Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan during the Asia Cup Twenty20 international. — AFP

3- Top-heavy Pakistan need to sort out middle order

Before the match, one of the talking points was Pakistan’s over reliance on the top three of Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman.

The others below lacked experience and did not have a proven record of having done anything notable with the bat at this level and in such a high-profile affair. Khushdil Shah (2 off 7), Shadab Khan (10 off 9), Asif Ali (9 off 7) and Mohammad Nawaz (1 off 3) all failed, thus, proving that there are a few chinks in the armor that need fixing.

Pakistan's captain Babar Azam leaves the field after being dismissed. — AFP
Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam leaves the field after being dismissed. — AFP

4- Naseem Shah comes of age

The batsmen disappointed but the bowlers did not, and made a competitive match even though they did not have a big total to defend.

The pick of the bowlers obviously was Naseem Shah, was menacing in the opening over and found enough movement to trouble Indian top order.

An element of luck was involved in his dismissal of KL Rahul but he was luckless when he saw Virat Kohli dropped in the same over in the slip cordon. Had it been a double wicket salvo in over 1, things could have perhaps turned out very different.

Towards the end, Naseem was cramped up and bowled his second spell pretty much on one leg, which was a testament to his passion for the game.

Pakistan's Naseem Shah celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of India's KL Rahul. — Reuters
Pakistan’s Naseem Shah celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of India’s KL Rahul. — Reuters

5- Opportunity(ies) for swift revenge incoming

Pakistan may have lost the game but the way this tournament is drawn up, there are good chances that these two would meet again, if not twice, then at least once.

Instant revenge could be on offer in few days to come, with the potential final stanza being in the final, provided that both the teams qualify.

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