Rex Clementine in New York
Due to political tensions between the countries, India – Pakistan encounters are few and rare these days. There’s no bilateral cricket at all and only time they meet is during Asia Cups or World Cups. When they do meet, the cricketing word’s eyes are firmly on the game. Television revenue pours into the game and organizers make a killing. Seats are sold out well in advance and it’s a superb atmosphere all in all.
Sunday’s T-20 World Cup game in New York was witnessed by 34,028 fans. Not bad for a country staging its first major cricket event. Indian and Pakistani expatriates living all over US flooded into New York. The city was quite busy and hotel rooms were being sold at premium prices.
Fans lined up at the stadium several hours before the game and they were in for a treat. Although the start was delayed due to rain, it cleared after a while and a full game was witnessed.
Naseem Shah was terrific with his three-wicket spell breaking the backbone of the Indian line-up. Pakistan’s seamers Haris Rauf, Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Afridi did a terrific job that the leg-spin of Shadab Khan wasn’t even required. When India were bowled out for 119 in 19 overs, this looked to be Pakistan’s game.
At 73 for two in the 14th over, they were well placed to knock off the target. It needed some sensible batting, but Pakistan didn’t handle the pressure well and Jasprit Bumrah bowled some unplayable deliveries to nail their fate.
Muhammad Rizwan was the set batsman and he had to see his team through. Bumrah was brought in to unsettle the run chase and Rizwan threw away his wicket. Bumrah is the bowler that Pakistan had to see off but Rizwan tried to swing him to the midwicket first ball and was cleaned up.
From thereon, Bumrah seized the moment. Rohit Sharma sensibly kept his premier bowler to the end without exhausting his overs.  Pakistan could still do it needing 21 runs in the last two overs. Bumrah bowling the penultimate over sealed the deal for India as he gave away just three runs and dismissed Iftikhar Ahmed.
Now qualification for Pakistan looks impossible. They had lost their opening game to USA and needed to beat India to stay alive. If USA beat Ireland, they will be going through to the Caribbean and not Pakistan.