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Indian-origin software engineer Saurabh Netravalkar plays key role in USA's Super Over victory against former T20 champion Pakistan
Photo Courtesy: ICC X page

Indian-origin software engineer Saurabh Netravalkar plays key role in USA's Super Over victory against former T20 champion Pakistan

| @indiablooms | 07 Jun 2024, 09:31 am

Software engineer Saurabh Netravalkar, who once played in the Under-19 Indian team, put up a strong show which helped the United States beat former T20 World Cup champion Pakistan in a Super Over clash on Thursday.

A boundary off the final ball of USA’s run-chase had sent the match to a Super Over, and it was the co-hosts of the tournament who came out on top in Dallas, pulling off one of the all-time great shocks.

Pakistan have reached at least the semi-final stage in six of the eight men's T20 World Cups, including finishing runners-up in the most recent tournament in Australia in 2022 where the Men in Green had put up a surprising show despite losing against India.

The United States, known for playing one of the earliest international cricket matches ever in history against Canada, did everything correct in Dallas to surprise Pakistan.

Pakistan turned to Mohammad Amir in the Super Over, but three wides and a string of overthrows helped USA rack up 18 runs, despite just one boundary coming off the bat of Aaron Jones.

USA's India-origin player Saurabh held his nerve with the ball as the hosts completed a memorable victory on home soil.

Set 160 to win in regulation time, the USA came out all guns blazing and was close to winning the game in their initial allocated 20 overs.

The top-order batsmen dominated the show and tackled the bowlers remarkably.

Opener Steven Taylor departed for 12 (16) in the final over of the Powerplay, but Monank Patel and Andries Gous put Pakistan on the back foot with a brilliant partnership that moved the tournament co-hosts inching close tot victory and creating one of the biggest upsets in the tournament so far.

Monank put up an impressive show by hitting a classy half-century to give his side hope.

He stitched a crucial 68-run partnership with Gous.

Pakistani bowlers, however, bounced back by removing both set batters to set up a nervy finale at the Grand Prairie Stadium.

Pakistani pace speedster Haris Rauf cleaned up Gous (35 from 26) to get the crucial breakthrough.

Mohammad Amir continued the strike and dismissed Patel who was caught behind for 50 from 38, giving a string of hope to Pakistan.

A classic display of death bowling seemed to have put Pakistan on the brink of victory despite a fine knock from Aaron Jones (36 not out from 26).

But USA banged 11 runs off the final three deliveries of the innings, with Nitish Kumar slamming the last ball for four to force a Super Over and send the home crowd delirious in Dallas.

Earlier, a recovery partnership between Babar Azam (44 from 43) and Shadab Khan (40 from 25) helped Pakistan recover from the loss of early wickets, before some big late hits from Shaheen Shah Afridi boosted the first-innings total to 159/7 after 20 overs.

Nosthush Kenjige (3/30 from 4) and Saurabh Netravalkar (2/18 from 4) led the way with the ball for the tournament co-hosts, who have given their batters a chance against one of Group A’s big two.

Tournament hosts USA won the toss, with captain Monak Patel opting to bowl first at the Grand Prairie Stadium here.

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam also revealed he would have opted to bowl first in “Test match conditions”, and his assessment was borne out in a tricky start to his team's innings.

Mohammad Rizwan (9) was removed by a stunning catch in the second over, with Usman Khan (3) holing out seven balls later and Fakhar Zaman departing for 11 to leave Pakistan in a spot of bother.

Steven Taylor plucks that out of thin air to send Mohammad Rizwan back.

Babar and Shadab led the rebuild as Pakistan moved towards a competitive total. But the momentum swung back in the favour of USA as Nosthush Kenjige took two in two balls to dismiss the well-set Shadab (40 from 25) and Azam Khan (0) with a first-baller.

Shadab Khan and Azam Khan walk back as Pakistan slip in Dallas as Nosthush Kenjige gets two in two for USA.

Babar’s anchoring innings came to an abrupt end when he was trapped lbw by Jasdeep Singh for 44 – a total that saw him become the leading run-scorer in the history of men’s T20 Internationals.

But Pakistan accelerated at the back end through Iftikhar Ahmed (18 from 14) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (23 from 16) to boost their total to 159/7 and give their talented bowling line-up a decent total to defend... not quite decent enough as it turned out.

India will next face Pakistan in New York on Sunday.

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