Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya guide India to 266 after opening blows from Afridi

Pallekele (Sri Lanka), Sept 2 (PTI) The wonderful rescue act of Hardik Pandya and Ishan Kishan helped India overcome a fiery opening spell from Shaheen Shah Afridi to post a healthy 266 against Pakistan in their Asia Cup match here on Saturday.

Kishan (82 off 81 balls) and Pandya (87 off 90 balls) kept Pakistan bowlers at bay with a 138-run fifth wicket stand off 141 balls to give their side a fine chance to make a winning start to the tournament.

They joined forces after Pakistan pacers Afridi, who accounted for Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli early, and Haris Rauf combined to reduce India to 66 for 4 in 14.1 overs.

In a sense, it was a rather unfamiliar job for both Pandya and Kishan, who generally love to give a wallop to the bowlers.

But the conditions at Pallekele, which always had a lick of drizzle, and a high-octane bowling attack meant that the Indian pair would have to curb their shot-making instincts.

They had to be precise in the selection of each shot, and needed to be extra patient.

Afridi (4 for 35) tailed the ball in, Naseem Shah tested their awareness outside the off-stump and Rauf (3 for 58) pounded in those heavy balls, but the Indian duo soaked in all those tough moments.

The boundaries and big shots were not easy to come by but Pandya and Kishan pushed the board ahead with singles and their 50-run partnership came in just 52 balls.

Pandya was happy to play the sidekick role to Kishan during their fifth wicket alliance that was worth 138 runs. This was the first time the left-hander was batting below the No.4 slot in his career, and he didn’t show any signs of nerves.

That Pakistan captain opted to give a longer spell to his spinners – Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz and Salman Agha – also played its part in Kishan getting settled in the middle.

Kishan brought his 50 in a mere 54 balls and he could have easily converted it into a three-figure score.

But his attempt to play a big pull off Rauf ended in the hands of Babar inside the circle. However, his innings might have eased some worries in the Indian camp about a wobbly middle-order in the absence of KL Rahul.

Once Kishan departed, Pandya took charge of the Indian innings and slammed spinner Nawaz for a massive six over mid-wicket.

However, Afridi returned to snap his stay. The left-arm pacer rolled his fingers to deliver a slower ball and Pandya just prodded it into the hands of Salman at extra cover.

From thereon, a few beefy blows by Jasprit Bumrah carried the side past the 250-run mark. Just after the end of the Indian innings, another spell of steady downpour started.

Source: PTI News


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