Ahmedabad: The first Twenty20 between India and Pakistan served as an appetizer that only increased the hunger for more exciting contests in the next ten days. It offered everything: brilliant stroke play by Ajinkya Rahane and Gautam Gambhir early on; a sensational collapse by India; Bhuvneshwar Kumar's swing that sent Pakistan into a tizzy for a brief period; heated arguments between Ishant Sharma and Kamran Akmal; and the composure shown by Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, with the latter finishing the contest with a six. The Ahmedabad crowd will not be satisfied with anything less than that when the two teams meet at the Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera for the second Twenty20 on Friday.
While Pakistan played their best eleven on Tuesday, India paid the price of not including a specialist spinner. Considering that, the inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin seems to be a formality. The offspinner is expected to replace Ravindra Jadeja, who failed with the bat and went for plenty with his unidirectional left-arm spin. Even playing eight batsmen didn't work well for India as they slumped to a paltry total of 133, despite getting a start of 77 by Rahane and Gambhir, with their seven wickets falling for just 21 runs. In spite of that, India may not make any change in the batting line-up.
It was a debut to remember for Bhuvneshwar as he reminded everyone of his Uttar Pradesh team-mate Praveen Kumar, who too swings the ball viciously and was part of the Indian squad until recently. He, along with Ashok Dinda and Ishant Sharma, had a good game at Bangalore and trio is expected to play on Friday as well.
Pakistan were clinical in their approach. They were taken to the cleaners by the Indian openers, but showed a lot of heart to come back. Umar Gul was hit for 13 runs in his first over but returned with three wickets when brought back. Saeed Ajmal's spin was the difference between the two sides. He was canny, displayed all his variations and picked up wickets for not many. Mohammad Irfan, with his over seven foot frame, made the Indian batsmen hop with his short-pitched bowling. Hafeez will hope that Tuesday was just one of those days when his top order didn't click. The onus will be on Nasir Jamshed, Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal to prove the captain right.
The batsmen-friendly deck at the Motera, which is hosting its first ever Twenty20, is expected to yield plenty of runs, just like the way it has done in Tests and ODIs over the years.
India: 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Rohit Sharma, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ishant Sharma, 11 Ashok Dinda
Pakistan: 1 Nasir Jamshed, 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez (capt), 4 Umar Akmal, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Kamran Akmal (wk), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9 Umrar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Mohammad Irfan.