Rohit Sharma lauded his team for being committed to their chances of victory in the win against Pakistan, stating he prefers such tight battles as it gives the team a chance to improve. He further praised the fast bowlers for their display before ending with words of appreciation for Hardik Pandya.
India managed to script a thrilling triumph in the opening game of their Asia Cup campaign by beating arch-rivals Pakistan by five wickets at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday. The rollercoaster ride that lasted until the very last over of the match made for an enthralling showing after a dismally one-sided affair in the previous encounter between the two teams where Pakistan were run away winners.
The pitch in Dubai did not allow for much fluent batting leading to a relatively low-scoring game. Having bundled out Pakistan for 147, the Men in Blue suffered a major setback in the second ball of the innings when they lost KL Rahul for a golden duck. However, the experienced duo of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli stabilized proceedings before falling in quick succession to leave India reeling at 62/3 at the 10-over mark. Eventually, Ravindra Jadeja'35 and a 17-ball unbeaten 32 from Hardik Pandya saw India home with two balls to spare.
The skipper has revealed that despite the increasingly difficult battle, the team's confidence never waned.
"Halfway through the innings, we still believed," Rohit Sharma was quoted saying by ESPN Cricinfo in the post-match presentation.
"That's the kind of belief we want to have in this group, where you're not in the game and you still manage to pull it off. We want to make sure they've all been given enough clarity around what to do in the middle. I'll take wins like this over one-sided wins."
There were a lot of positives for India to take in the bowling department. All the 10 wickets were picked up by their pacers, with spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar particularly excelling. He ended up with figures of 4-0-26-4, while new-ball partner Arshdeep Singh was brilliant with the new ball and ended up with two scalps to his name. Man of the match Hardik Pandya's short balling rained chaos in the Pakistani lineup, as he used the bouncer effectively to claim three wickets while conceding just 25 runs in his quote of four overs.
"The fast bowlers have done very well in the last 12 months or so. We were challenged at times but overcoming those challenges will take us forward. Since Hardik's comeback into this team, he's been brilliant. Had a great IPL too. His batting qualities we all know, he has been brilliant with the bat since he came into the team," Sharma concluded.
India will now play Hong Kong on Wednesday at the same venue in their final group stage game.