DUBAI: Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan hit punishing centuries to steer an imperious India to a nine-wicket win over a listless Pakistan in the Asia Cup match in Dubai on Sunday. Sharma notched a 119-ball 111 not out for his 19th one-day hundred while Dhawan made a 100-ball 114 for his eighth century as the pair put on 210 for the opening stand – second best in all India-Pakistan one-day internationals.
That super effort from the openers saw India overhaul the target with 10.3 overs to spare. The Super four win is the second for India over their arch-rivals following their easy eighth wicket win in the first round. Bangladesh beat Afghanistan by three runs in a last ball fionish in Abu Dhabi which meant India sailed into the September 28 final in Dubai.
Pakistan and Bangladesh meet in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday to decide the second finalist. The win is India’s highest against Pakistan in terms of wickets, improving on the eight wicket win over Pakistan in Melbourne in 1985.
Pakistan were steered to 237-7 by Shoaib Malik who made a 90-ball 78 after winning the toss and batting but it proved too little for the strong Indian batting line. Pakistan could have got Sharma out in the sixth over but Imam-ul-Haq dropped an easy catch off a luckless Shaheen Shah, giving the colourful Indian power to smash seven boundaries and four sixes.
Sharma, who scored back to back fifties in the last two games, also became the ninth Indian batsmen to complete 7,000 one-day runs in his 187th match when he reached 94, soon after he was dropped on 81 by Fakhar Zaman off Shadab Khan. Dhawan matched his skipper shot for shot, firing a 100-ball 114 with 16 boundaries and two sixes as Pakistani bowlers struggled with the rasping and flowing strokes of the Indian openers.
Pakistan’s pace spearhead Mohammad Amir, brought back in one of two changes after being dropped for the Afghanistan match, went wicketless for a fifth match in a row, leaving the much vaunted Pakistan bowling biteless. Even when Dhawan got out in the 34th over with 38 needed it was through a run out.
The best opening stand in Indo-Pak one-day internationals was 224 Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed at Dhaka in 2012.