Toothless Pakistan go down by 124 runs to arch-rivals India

A near-complete performance from Team India helped them begin their Champions Trophy title defence with a comprehensive 124-run victory against arch-rivals Pakistan. Having been put into bat, India posted a formidable 319/3 in a match that was reduced to 48 overs following a couple of rain interruptions. Half-centuries from the Indian top four of Rohit Sharma (91), Shikhar Dhawan (68), Virat Kohli (81*), and Yuvraj Singh (59*) were, needless to say, instrumental in India posting the score they did.

Defending a big total, the Indian bowlers bowled disciplined lines and lengths and ensured that the Pakistani batsmen did not have any easy runs on offer. Umesh Yadav (3/30) was the pick of the bowlers for India, whose bowling attack collectively did a good job. The reason I say this was only a near-complete performance is because of the way India fielded. They dropped catches and let balls go through them for boundaries and easy runs, without which Pakistan might well have not made 164. This is an area where they cannot afford to go wrong in bigger and more significant matches.

Yuvraj, for providing the Indian innings with the much-needed impetus with a 32-ball 53 (8×4 and 1×6), was awarded the man-of-the-match award. India have gone top of the table with this massive victory.

Pakistan’s chase

Chasing what was at first a challenging (324 runs from 48 overs) and then, after a rain interruption 4.5 overs into their innings, a daunting Duckworth-Lewis target (289 runs from 41 overs), Pakistan’s failure to bat proactively and manage the constantly climbing required run rate proved to be their undoing. In fact, Pakistan’s batting line-up lacked the firepower necessary to chase the target they were in pursuit of. Only Shoaib Malik had a strike-rate of over 100, and he only lasted nine balls, with the other frontline batsmen tending to score only at 55-80 runs/100 balls.

Azhar Ali took a lot of us aback with a good half-century (50), particularly with the kind of shots he played and intent he showed. None of the other Pakistani batsmen was able to match Azhar’s shot-making ability, to put the Indian bowlers under pressure. The first wicket partnership of 47 between Azhar and Ahmed Shehzad was the highest of the innings, though Azhar was the one who batted convincingly and again had a proper game plan.

Babar Azam, of whom the expectations were high, failed to set the stage on fire and the Pakistani batting line-up just didn’t raise their game for the big occasion. Shoaib Malik, who is the most experienced player in the current Pakistani line-up, showed signs of reviving the innings after Azhar had fallen with the team score on 91. But a miscommunication with Mohammad Hafeez and backing up too much cost Malik his wicket, with Ravindra Jadeja nonchalantly hitting the stumps from backward point. Malik fell with his team’s score on 114.

Once Malik fell, the result of the match was pretty much known and a mixture of good Indian bowling and aimless batting from Pakistan resulted in the Men in Blue winning by a whopping 124 runs by D/L method.

A cautious start from India

On their respective returns to One-Day International cricket, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan justified the selectors’s decision to pick them in India’s Champions Trophy squad, by putting together a solid 136-run opening partnership and laying a solid platform for the Indian middle order, after Sarfaraz Ahmed had won the toss and boldly chosen to field first.

Rohit had the bulk of the strike to start off with and Mohammad Amir kept getting the better of him for the better part of his first three overs of his first spell. The left-arm pacer angled the ball across the right-hander, at pace, and was unfortunate to not catch the outside edge. He began with a maiden, in which he beat Rohit outside the off stump thrice, and conceded just seven runs in his first 18 balls, with 17 of those to the Mumbai batsman. Dhawan was a mere spectator while Amir bowled his better deliveries to Rohit, and the Delhi left-hander faced much of Imad Wasim’s first three overs.

India hit just a couple of fours, both coming off Rohit’s blade, in the first half-a-dozen overs but more importantly, had safely negotiated arguably the most testing phase of the innings. Wasim partnering Amir instead of another pacer, helped the Indian openers, who were unthreatened by a left-arm spinner who is very much in Ravindra Jadeja’s mould. His flatter, fast and stump-to-stump deliveries were easily dealt with by Rohit and Dhawan.

Pakistan digging their own grave

Sarfraz was rigid with his captaincy whereby he seemed to have chosen the bowlers who will bowl at specific stages of the innings and then stuck to the plan, without being proactive. This ploy very much played into India’s hands and their openers were able to become familiar with the bowlers in operation. Not being able to hit many boundaries, the Indian opening pair rotated the strike superbly, picking ones and twos and free of risk, collecting four to five runs per over. Rotating the strike and hustling between the wickets were the standout features of Rohit and Dhawan’s 136-run partnership.

Pakistan were poor on the field, dropping catches and misfielding regulation balls. The misfields and dropped catches easily cost them an additional 60-80 runs. India, too, were poor on the field and their fielding display was on par with Pakistan’s.

The Pakistani bowling attack struggled to keep a lid on the scoring and gifted the Indian batsmen with loose deliveries at regular intervals. Wahab Riaz, in particular, had an extremely poor day at the office and his introduction into the attack opened the floodgates for the Indian openers. His extra pace and the width he was providing allowed them to work with angles and free their arms as well. A blend of poor captaincy and poor bowling were the foremost reasons in Pakistan conceding a 300-plus total.

Changing the course of the innings

Having been just 66/0 at the end of 15 overs, India scored 44 runs off the next five overs, to push their run rate up and assume control of proceedings. The 20th over, which was bowled by Riaz, cost Pakistan 15 runs and Dhawan, who had played second fiddle to Rohit until then, cut loose and provided his and the Indian innings the much-needed momentum.

Rohit brought up his half-century in the 16th over with a crisp hit over mid-wicket off leg-spinner Shadab Khan and just began to look more like his usual self. Dhawan, after the breakthrough 20th over of the innings, started timing the ball exquisitely as well and the Indian innings moved into top gear. But just when Dhawan had a fluency about his innings, he hit a benign, low full toss from Shadab Khan straight to Azhar Ali at deep mid-wicket.

The rhythm breakers

The Indian innings had a couple of brief stoppages (after 9.5 overs and 33.1 overs) and disrupted the rhythm of the batsmen in the middle. When play resumed, the bowling side invariably bowled two to three tight overs, to transfer the pressure onto the batting team. Pakistan definitely benefitted from these stoppages on a day their bowlers weren’t potent enough to get the breakthroughs.

After the second stoppage, in particular, Rohit struggled to accumulate runs and India looked like they might not even reach 300. He got himself out of this rut with a couple of sweet hits in the 36th over, again off the pacey and erratic Riaz, to get himself into the 90s. The Mumbai batsman was, unfortunately, run out for 92 in the 37th over.

Final flourish

Virat Kohli struggled for timing for much of his innings, but he, along with Yuvraj Singh and Hardik Pandya, provided India with the final flourish after the innings had slowed down since the 32nd over. The match was reduced to 48 overs after the second stoppage and India had only reached 213/2 at the end of 40 overs.

But with Yuvraj striking the ball cleanly and playing one of his vintage innings, Kohli’s lack of rhythm proved immaterial and India’s score skyrocketed towards the end. The stylish Punjab left-hander made 53 off 32 balls (8×4 and 1×6) before being trapped in front by Hasan. Kohli, though, by now had found his rhythm and took charge of the innings with his trademark strokes from the 45th over onwards, to get India closer to 300. Having been on 52 off 59 balls at the start of the 46th over, Kohli finished with 81* (6×4 and 3×6) off 68 balls, indicating the role he played in India reaching 319/3.

The job of taking India over 300 was done by Hardik, who struck three consecutive sixes off Wasim, who was tasked with bowling the final over, and helped India finish on a high. Hardik had been promoted ahead of MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav, and he played a massive part in India scoring 72 runs off the last four overs. Amir and Riaz picked up injuries while bowling their respective 9th overs and had to go off the field.

India vs Pakistan, 4th match scorecard

Playing XIs

India: 1. Virat Kohli (C), 2. Rohit Sharma, 3. Shikhar Dhawan, 4. Yuvraj Singh, 5. MS Dhoni (WK), 6. Kedar Jadhav, 7. Ravindra Jadeja, 8. Hardik Pandya, 9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10. Umesh Yadav, and 11. Jasprit Bumrah

Pakistan: 1. Sarfraz Ahmed (C and WK), 2. Ahmed Shehzad, 3. Mohammad Hafeez, 4. Babar Azam, 5. Shoaib Malik, 6. Azhar Ali, 7. Imad Wasim, 8. Wahab Riaz, 9. Mohammad Amir, 10. Hasan Ali, and 11. Shadab Khan


India: 319/3 (Rohit 91, Kohli 81* and Dhawan 68; Shadab 1/52)
Pakistan: 164/9 (Azhar 50; Umesh 3/30, Pandya 2/43 and Jadeja 2/43)

India innings (toss: Pakistan, who chose to bowl first)
Batsman Dismissal Runs scored No. of 4s No. of 6s Strike rate
Rohit Sharma run out by Azam 91 (119) 7 2 76.47
Shikhar Dhawan caught Azhar, bowled Shadab 68 (65) 6 1 104.61
Virat Kohli not out 81 (68) 6 3 119.11
Yuvraj Singh leg before wicket Hasan 53 (32) 8 1 165.62
Hardik Pandya not out 20 (6) 0 3 333.33
Batsmen who didn’t bat: MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, and Jasprit Bumrah
Extras: 6 (2 no-balls, 2 wides and 2 leg byes)
India’s total: 319/3 in 48 overs, at 6.64 runs per over
India’s fall of wickets: 136/1 (Dhawan, 24.3), 192/2 (Rohit, 36.4) and 285/3 (Yuvraj, 46.2)
Pakistan bowling
Bowlers Overs Maidens Runs conceded Wickets taken Economy rate
Mohammad Amir 8.1 1 32 0 3.91
Imad Wasim 9.1 0 66 0 7.20
Hasan Ali 10 0 70 1 7.00
Wahab Riaz 8.4 0 87 0 10.03
Shadab Khan 10 0 52 1 5.20
Shoaib Malik 2 0 10 0 5.00
Pakistan innings (D/L target: 289 runs in 41 overs, at 7.04 runs per over)
Batsman Dismissal Runs scored No. of 4s No. of 6s Strike rate
Azhar Ali caught Pandya, bowled Jadeja 50 (65) 6 0 76.92
Ahmed Shehzad leg before wicket Bhuvneshwar 12 (22) 1 0 54.54
Babar Azam caught Jadeja, bowled Umesh 8 (12) 1 0 66.66
Mohammad Hafeez caught Bhuvneshwar, bowled Jadeja 33 (43) 2 0 76.74
Shoaib Malik run out by Jadeja 15 (9) 2 1 166.66
Sarfraz Ahmed caught Dhoni, bowled Pandya 15 (16) 2 0 93.75
Imad Wasim caught Jadhav, bowled Pandya 0 (1) 0 0 0.00
Shadab Khan not out 14 (16) 1 1 87.50
Mohammad Amir caught Jadhav, bowled Umesh 9 (16) 0 0 56.25
Hasan Ali caught Dhawan, bowled Umesh 0 (2) 0 0 0.00
Batsmen who didn’t bat: Wahab Riaz (injured)
Extras: 8 (6 wides and 2 leg byes)
Pakistan’s total: 164/9 in 33.4 overs, at 4.87 runs per over
Pakistan’s fall of wickets: 47/1 (Shehzad, 8.6), 61/2 (Azam, 12.2), 91/3 (Azhar, 20.5), 114/4 (Malik, 23.3), 131/5 (Hafeez, 26.3), 135/6 (Wasim, 27.3), 151/7 (Sarfraz, 29.3), 164/8 (Amir, 33.2), and 164/9 (Hasan, 33.4)
India bowling
Bowlers Overs Maidens Runs conceded Wickets taken Economy rate
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 5 1 23 1 4.60
Umesh Yadav 7.4 1 30 3 3.91
Jasprit Bumrah 5 0 23 0 4.60
Hardik Pandya 8 0 43 2 5.37
Ravindra Jadeja 8 0 43 2 5.37

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