Rohit Sharma’s India lost to Pakistan by five wickets in a thrilling India-Pakistan Asia Cup clash in the Super Four clash on Sunday evening (September 04). Being asked to bat first, India rode on Virat Kohli’s scintillating 44-ball 60 and other handy knocks from Rohit Sharma-KL Rahul along with some contributions from Rishabh Pant and Deepak Hooda to post 181-7 before Mohammad Rizwan (71) – Mohammad Nawaz (20-ball 42) and Asif Ali-Khusdil Shah’s finishing cameos took Men in Green home on the penultimate ball of the contest at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai.
While many blamed Arshdeep Singh for dropping a sitter in the 18th over of Pakistan’s run-chase, some also pointed fingers at Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s 19-run penultimate over whereas others slammed the poor shot selections from India’s middle-order, comprising Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya, for Rohit & Co.’s loss in the Super Four face-off. Former cricketers Gautam Gambhir and Wasim Akram also opined on the Indo-Pak battle and weren’t impressed with Pant’s shot selection.
“Rishabh Pant will be disappointed because that’s not his shot, his shot is probably hit it over long-on or deep mid-wicket, you end up hitting over there and get out, absolutely you can take it because that’s your strength. Your strength is not reverse-sweeping,” Gambhir said in an interaction with Star Sports
“Especially, Gauti, at that stage of the game, there was no need to play that shot. I know he plays that shot in Test cricket, I know he is one of the top players in world cricket but in this stage of the game, that shot wasn’t required,” Akram mentioned during the same discussion.
Pant only managed a 12-ball 14, going for a reverse sweep off Shabad Khan’s bowling before being caught by Asif.
Former India head coach Ravi Shastri also opined on Pant’s dismissal and said, “Particularly after what he saw Rohit, Rahul and others were doing. Where were the runs coming? It was down the ground and in the V. It was a beautiful pitch, hats off to the groundsmen, the ball was skidding on to the bat. That’s his strength, he can smack it. No boundary is big for Rishabh Pant if he connects it, but that’s his area. Absolutely, right.”
Pant will be eager to make a bigger contribution in India’s remaining Super Four games, where they play Sri Lanka (September 06) and Afghanistan (September 08).