‘India tried their best to lose the game, but for Pandya’, says Shoaib Akhtar

Former Pakistan pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar said that both India and Pakistan tried their best to lose the Asia Cup marquee clash between the two countries on Sunday at Sharjah. Akhtar released a video on his YouTube channel giving his thoughts on the match which ended with India taking the win in the last over.

“Both teams tried their best to lose the game and India almost succeeded in doing so. India tried their best to lose the game but Hardik Pandya took them across the line,” said the 47-year-old.

After bundling Pakistan out for 147 in the first innings, India chased down the target of 148 with two balls remaining – Hardik Pandya being the eventual man-of the match. He took his three wickets while bowling and scored 33 runs off 17 balls which included a six in the fourth ball of the last over to push India across the line.

Singling out Mohammad Rizwan, Akhtar said that the opener set the tone for Pakistan’s total being low. Rizwan 43 runs of 42 deliveries, with four 4s and a solitary boundary over the ropes in his stay.

“If Rizwan plays at a run-a-ball rate, then what will happen? 19 dot balls in first 6 overs. If you will play so many dot balls then you will face problems,” said Akhtar.

Rizwan opened the innings with Pakistan skipper Babar Azam. Both found initial proceedings tough to navigate. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh opened India’s bowling spell and set the tone for a masterclass in bouncers.

“I have said this multiple times that Babar Azam shouldn’t open. He should come one down and anchor the innings till the end,” said Akhtar, berating the Pakistan batting performance.

Akhtar also criticised the selection calls made by both captains. India chose to go with Dinesh Karthik instead of Rishabh Pant while Pakistan went with Iftikhar Ahmed at No 4. Ahmed made a 28-run contribution in 22 balls while Karthik got only one ball at the crease to play at. “It was a bad selection call by both captains. Both tried to pick the wrong teams. They dropped Rishabh Pant and we added Iftikhar Ahmed at number four,” said Akhtar.

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