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Asia Cup

Amir’s new-ball burst, Venky’s World Cup encore – Six great spells from India-Pakistan Asia Cup clashes

Mohammad Amir
Abhishek Mukherjee by Abhishek Mukherjee
@ovshake42 6 minute read

Between 1984 and 2018, India and Pakistan met 14 times at the Asia Cup. Here are six of the finest spells from these encounters.

Arshad Ayub, 5-21, Dhaka 1988

A year and a half ago, Pakistan had trounced India 5-1 in the ODIs on Indian soil. However, India turned the tide in Dhaka, largely due to a terrific spell from Hyderabad off-spinner Arshad Ayub. Until this point, Ayub had impressed in Test cricket, even against the West Indians, but this was his first remarkable ODI spell.


Pakistan began well to reach 91-1 when Ayub trapped Rameez Raja leg-before. Then, as Ijaz Ahmed watched helplessly from the other end, Ayub also accounted for Aamer Malik, Shoaib Mohammad, Naved Anjum, and Wasim Akram – all without the aid of a fielder or wicketkeeper. Ayub’s 5-21 were, at that point, the best figures by an Indian in Men’s ODIs.

Pakistan were bowled out for 142, but reduced India to 116-6 before Mohinder Amarnath (74*) bailed them out.

Aaqib Javed, 5-19, Sharjah 1995

In 1995, Aaqib Javed was at it again, three and a half years after he had rocked India with a hat-trick and the then best bowling figures (7-37) in ODIs. After Pakistan posted 266-9 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 88, Wasim 50), Aaqib virtually ended the match by taking out Manoj Prabhakar, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammad Azharuddin, and Vinod Kambli in his first spell. Aaqib returned to get Javagal Srinath

India never recovered from 37-4 as Pakistan won by 97 runs – their first win against India at the Asia Cup. Remarkably, Pakistan did not qualify for the final, while India won their fourth title.

Venkatesh Prasad, 4-17, SSC 1997

A year after his famous spell against the same opposition in the World Cup quarter-final, Prasad was at it again in conditions where the ball moved away a tad too much for batters. After Tendulkar won a crucial toss, Prasad got Saeed Anwar, Aamer Sohail, Inzamam, and Saleem Malik to leave Pakistan reeling at 23-4.

Abey Kuruvilla got Rameez as well, but no further play was possible after Pakistan were 30-5 in nine overs. Even the reserve day was washed out.

Prasad continued with his remarkable form against Pakistan. His 43 ODI wickets against them came at 28.90: he took 153 against other teams, at 33.26.

Abdul Razzaq, 4-29, Dhaka 2000

Mohammad Yousuf’s unbeaten 100 had taken Pakistan to 295-7. Chasing down targets around 300, while not as common as today, was not unheard of in ODIs back then. Despite losing Sourav Ganguly early, India were on track, at 68-1 in the 12th over.

Enter Razzaq. In a space of seven balls, he sent back Rahul Dravid, Tendulkar, and Azharuddin to knock India out of the contest. When Ajay Jadeja and Ajit Agarkar added 52 for the eighth wicket in 37 balls to create an outside chance of a win, Razzaq bowled Agarkar to end that threat.

Pakistan went on to win the Asia Cup for the first time.

Mohammad Amir, 3-18, Mirpur 2016

What do you do when you set out to defend a mere 84? Mohammad Amir’s first ball, a curling yorker, would have got Rohit Sharma leg-before, had the umpire not decided otherwise. The second ball, a near-encore, got him alright. Two balls later, he swung back another ball to trap Ajinkya Rahane leg-before. In the next over, a ball swung too much for Suresh Raina’s flick, took the leading edge, and lobbed to mid-on.

Suddenly, India were 8-3 – and Amir seemed likely to take a wicket with every ball he bowled in a once-in-a-lifetime exhibition of swing bowling. The overs suddenly became redundant unless India saw off Amir’s four-over quota.

In the end, Virat Kohli, with a special 49, became the immovable object that saw off the unstoppable force. Mohammad Sami struck twice late in the innings, but 84 was always going to be too few.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 3-15, Dubai 2018

Bhuvneshwar had just recovered from a back injury, and had not taken an ODI wicket in over 200 balls. Yet, he reduced the much-hyped clash, a year after Pakistan’s famous win in the ICC Champions Trophy final, into an anti-climax. As Imam-ul-Haq tried to step out early in the innings, Bhuvneshwar held the length back. Imam, nowhere near the pitch, could merely edge it.

In his next over, Bhuvneshwar had Fakhar Zaman, hero of that Champions Trophy final, top-edging a pull. The catch left Pakistan reeling at 3-2 after 4.1 overs. Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik added 82, but the runs did not come quickly enough. Bhuvneshwar later returned to pick another wicket; he finished with 7-1-15-3 as Pakistan crashed to 162 even after Hardik Pandya had to be stretchered off mid-over.

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