India cricketer Robin Uthappa believes that the move to promote left-arm spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja to number four was a good move, something which no one could have predicted in the Asia Cup Group A match against Pakistan.
With left-handed wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant left out of the eleven as India chose to stick to Dinesh Karthik's finishing abilities, it meant that the top six batters were all right-handed. After Rohit Sharma fell at the end of the eighth over, Jadeja was surprisingly promoted to four and batted till the final over, making 35 runs in 29 balls.
He shared stands of 36 with Suryakumar Yadav and 52 with Hardik Pandya for fourth and fifth wickets respectively. Jadeja's presence at the crease meant that Pakistan couldn't complete the quota of overs of their left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, who bowled the final over and castled Jadeja too.
But by then, India were well on their way to chase down 148 and did so with two balls to spare.
"Nobody I think saw that (Jadeja at No. 4) coming. It was a good call. It was a good move. Something that no one really foresaw. I actually quite like that decision. Going for a bit of Pakistan's perspective, in hindsight, they could have bowled that one over of the left-arm spinner (Nawaz) in the first six, because they had two right-handers (batting) and it was the right time," said Uthappa on ESPNcricinfo's T20 Time Out show after the match ended.
Uthappa further pointed out that Pakistan missed a trick by bringing their spinners from power-play onwards, citing the issues India batters, captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, have against the slower bowlers early on in their innings.
"It looked like Babar (Azam) took the safer option to bring in the spinners immediately after the powerplay. He could have brought one of them on during the powerplay. (It) would have been a great match-up for Rohit and Kohli. In the first 10 balls to the spinners, they nudge the ball around and they don't really have a great strike rate at that point in time, and that proved right again today (India were 38 for 1 after the powerplay). That should have encouraged Pakistan."
Though Hardik Pandya's all-round contributions headlined India's five-wicket win, senior pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar also shined with figures of 4-26 in his four overs. He got the key wicket of Pakistan captain Babar Azam in the third over, with the top-edge on pull flying to fine leg. Bhuvneshwar returned in the back end of Pakistan's innings to take out Shadab Khan, Asif Ali and Naseem Shah.
"(Bhuvneshwar's contribution) was right up there with Hardik Pandya's contribution as well. His story of resurgence has been a long and arduous one. He has gone from two years from an injury, not being able to figure out what the injury was to work day in and day out at the NCA -- and I am telling you, those are not easy days, you have a surgery, you do rehab; the rehab part is the most difficult, the surgery is the easiest -- and to come back and do that boring stuff day in and day out, months on end, is extremely hard."
"And he has taken his time, he's played a lot of cricket, and he's gotten better and better. His confidence has grown. You can see him swinging the ball early and late," concluded Uthappa.