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Faisal KAMAL

Rizwan, Nawaz help Pakistan edge India in Asia Cup thriller

Mohammad Rizwan played a starring role with the bat as he made 71 off 51 balls. ©AFP

Dubai (AFP) - A key partnership between Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Nawaz set up a thrilling five-wicket win for Pakistan in their opening Super Four game against India in the Asia Cup on Sunday.

Chasing 182 for victory, Pakistan achieved their target with one ball to spare in Dubai after Rizwan hit 71 and the left-handed Nawaz, who was promoted to number four, made 42.

Rizwan was out after his second successive half-century in the 17th over but Khushdil Shah, with his unbeaten 14, and Asif Ali, who made 16 off eight balls, made sure Pakistan got over the line in a tense final over bowled by Arshdeep Singh.

Reprieved after Arshdeep dropped an easy catch at short third man, Asif hit a six and two fours before falling with two balls left, leaving Iftikhar Ahmed to score the remaining two runs.

"There was positive pressure," said Nawaz, who also returned bowling figures of 1-25 with his left-arm spin.

"I felt I have to play well for my team and that time it was 10 runs per over and I knew I can do this.I just had to focus on my batting and execute the skills."

It was the second meeting in the tournament between the arch-rivals, who only play each other in multi-nation events due to political tensions, after India's group-stage win.

Earlier, Virat Kohli's 60 guided India to 181-7 after being put in to bat.

Pakistan started their chase cautiously and lost skipper Babar Azam for 14 with leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi luring the batsman into a chip straight to mid-wicket.

The in-form Rizwan, who made 43 and 78 in the previous two matches, hit back with three boundaries off pace bowler Hardik Pandya and a six in the next over.

He put on 41 with Fakhar Zaman who played a scratchy knock of 15 before falling to Yuzvendra Chahal's leg-spin.

Pakistan promoted the left-handed Nawaz, primarily a spinner, to up the scoring and he delivered by promptly hitting a four and six.

"To play such an innings in a high-pressure game has given me confidence and made me grow as a player," said Nawaz.

"I will try to live up to the expectations which will rise (after this innings) and perform like a proper all-rounder."

'Brilliant' Kohli

Rizwan, who hurt himself keeping wicket after landing awkwardly on his right leg but was able to continue, anchored the innings and reached fifty in 37 balls.

Nawaz smashed five fours and two sixes in his 20-ball blitz and stood firm with Rizwan before getting out to Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Pandya removed Rizwan as India sensed a turnaround but the left-handed Khushdil and Asif completed the chase as Pakistan avenged their loss to India last weekend.

Star batsman Kohli, who hit 60 off 44 balls before being run out in the final over, helped India survive a middle-order stutter to post a competitive total.

He reached his 32nd T20 international half-century in 36 balls with a six off pace bowler Mohammad Hasnain amid chants of "Kohli, Kohli" at a packed stadium.

Kohli, who has slowly come out his lean patch with scores of 35 and 59 in the previous two matches, held the innings together despite a middle-order stutter and stood strong before being run out in the final over.

"The form is brilliant," skipper Rohit Sharma said of Kohli.

"Needed someone to bat long when the others were getting out.He batted with that tempo as well.Virat getting that score was crucial from the team's point of view."

Leg-spinner Shadab Khan stood out for Pakistan with figures of 2-31 from his four overs.

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