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Clinical India Pound Pakistan To A Thrashing Defeat, Go 7-0 Up In World Cups

June 17, 2019

A standalone contest distilled out from white political noise and hype, regarded as one of cricket’s most anticipated rivalries, on its biggest cricketing stage has once again failed to live up to its billing. Such has been an India-Pakistan game when it comes down to the World Cups, it’s like an antidote to the Sharjah days that continues to feed off its golden past, yet evidences the present like nothing else does.

None of the 6 previous meetings between India and Pakistan had close finish on offer but most of them contained tense passages of play. Old Trafford on Sunday had neither. Though it witnessed a plenty of quality cricket, but most of that came from one side only and without a surprise that side at the close of play has gone seven-nil up over their neighbours.

One could understand why Sarfaraz chose to bowl first on a cloudy day. Hence in oder to trouble the Indian openers his bowlers had to bowl the right length but none barring Mohammad Amir did that. The left-armer was close to unplayable in his opening spell that read the figures of 4-1-8-0 where he was threatening either to find the inside edges off the fuller deliveries or top edges with the shorter ones. However he had no support from the other end. Rohit Sharma, India’s show-stopper of the day started attacking Hasan Ali in every other ball. Ali should have bowled full to him, he had to try dragging him out of his crease and possibly force him into a drive as the Indian Vice Captain doesn’t bother moving his front foot too much towards the start of an innings. That’s the best time to exploit his vulnerability against the swinging ball. But apart from a few deliveries to start Hasan Ali simply kept bowling short to Rohit Sharma with the latter punishing him by slapping over point and pulling into the stands. With Rohit decisively taking the aggressor’s role gave Rahul the cushion to play his normal game. He made a cautious start against Amir, left a number of balls, had gathered an idea about the exact bounce of the surface and then slowly built-on from there. Later he took on the spinners, used his feet against them, brought in the sweep shots and in the process notched up a fine half century that shares a fair bit of significance in India’s 136 run opening stand. The story however could have been different if either Fakhar Zaman or Shadab Khan had fared better with their attempts at running Rohit out. Wahab Riaz did manage to get Rahul caught at cover but he never looked like being the messiah Pakistan needed on their average bowling day out. With that dismissal in came Virat Kohli and occupied the crease like a favourite bit of a lawn furniture.

The partnership of the Indian captain and his deputy added more woes to Pakistan as the former banked upon his ability to convert the ones into twos with Rohit continued to pick-up boundaries with seamless fashion. The run-machine brought up his landmark to become the fastest to 11,000 ODI runs. Hitman got to his 24th ODI century in just 85 balls, a far breezier knock than his effort in a scrappy chase against South Africa 10 days ago. But just when he looked set for a double, all against the run of play he found the man at short fine leg by attempting to scoop the ball over that fielder. With Sharma departing for a scintillating 140 it was now time for Kohli to take centre-stage. The skipper was accompanied by Hardik Pandya, who once again came at no. 4 to make all those debates over the past two years for that position irrelevant, at least for now. The duo added another quick-fire 52 until Pandya failed to make his helicopter land into the crowd, possibly for the first time. It was followed by Dhoni’s dismissal – an ugly hoick first up against Amir in quest of unleashing his younger avatar trying to launch one into the orbit all he managed was a thick top edge. Kohli from the other end continued getting runs holding his fort but as far as his individual score of 77, when he decided to walk off having attempted a pull shot and despite not being given out on field. It was only for the snicometer to later reveal that Kohli had walked off for nothing, there was no bat involved. His exit also meant that India were no longer posting a total past 340 mark, which at one stage looked well above 360.

The run-chase from Pakistan wasn’t totally hopeless. Despite Vijay Shankar striking with his very first ball in the world cup to send Imam back in the hut, Kohli had his worries regarding bowling rotation to handle as India had already lost one of their two mainstays of pace bowling. When Bhuvneshwar Kumar was forced to leave the field owing to a stiff hamstring he had only delivered 2.4 overs. So India had a potentially challenging task of completing 17.2 overs with their 5th and 6th bowlers rather than just 10. Both the Pakistani batsmen knew it. Hence they thought about seeing out the early spell of Bumrah and cash-in against the likes of Pandya and Shankar and thereby forcing Kohli to try his hands at Kedar Jadhav. But that never really happened, thanks to Kuldeep Yadav who guided India past a threatening second wicket partnership, the highest ever for Pakistan against India in world cups. While Chahal was having a rare off day with both Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam taking him for those authoritative slog sweeps, the left arm wrist spinner came to the rescue by dismissing both the batsmen in a space of three deliveries.

Kuldeep bolwed a dream ball to get rid of Babar, perhaps the ball of the tournament so far that comprised of drift, dip and turn. The drift drew Babar into playing at a wider line and effectively opening up a massive gap between the bat and the pad. Dip ensured that the ball landed slightly shorter than Babar would have wanted, causing him to push further out and away from his body. And finally it was turn that did the rest to clean-up the Pakistan no. 3 through his gate. Kuldeep was consistently challenging the batsmen in the air and off the pitch while the centurion from the last Champions Trophy final was hardly offering him anything apart from slog sweeps. Thus his dismissal was never far away, and as anticipated, he top-edged one to the man at 45. Pakistan were further rocked with Hardik Pandya’s double strike in the very next over where the wickets of Mohammad Hafeez and dreadfully-out-of-sorts Shoaib Malik reduced the remainder of the game to none but a formality. India however were kept waiting for their moment as the game ran into another rain-forced delay and this time it also shaved out 10 overs from the game to set Pakistan a target of 136 from 30 balls. It simply was an impossible task, not much dissimilar to Pakistan’s chances of beating India in a World Cup game.

  1. AYAN ROY permalink

    Very nicely and precisely written !! But I had to take ample time to understand as your report is too deep !!

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