Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Sharma keeps India unbeaten against Pakistan

Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP

MANCHESTER: India extended their unbeaten record against Pakistan in World Cups to seven matches, with Rohit Sharma’s second century of the tournament setting up an 89-run (DLS) win at Old Trafford.

With the threat of rain looming and on a pitch that had spent time under covers in the lead up to the match, Pakistan put India in. However, the decision backfired as India posted 336/5, and then turned the screws to take four wickets for 12 runs in triggering a fatal middle-order collapse.

India’s new opening combination of Rohit and KL Rahul were close to some mix-ups on the field, but with Pakistan’s fielding letting them down again, they eased to a free-flowing stand of 136 at a good rate. With Virat Kohli joining the party and becoming the quickest player to get to 11,000 ODI runs, India were set for a tall total.

Both Rahul (57 off 78) and Kohli (77 off 65) made half-centuries, while Rohit was majestic in setting the tone, getting into the groove earlier than he usually does. He moved into his 90s with a massive six off a cut shot, and brought up his 24th ODI hundred with a single. He was furious with himself for missing out on a big one, sending a scoop straight to the fielder at short fine leg to be out for 140 off 113 balls.

Mohammed Amir improved on his record against India, getting Kohli and MS Dhoni to edge behind, while Hardik Pandya’s helicopter shot found Babar Azam in the deep. It was just the fightback Pakistan needed – and a short rain break after 46.4 overs seemed to have swung the momentum slightly Pakistan’s way. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar limping off, Vijay Shankar came on and struck with his very first ball of his World Cup, trapping Imam-ul-Haq in front. But Fakhar Zaman and Babar took on the Indian attack, with an eye on the grey clouds and the DLS targets.

The Pakistan side of the crowd came alive with the duo’s half-centuries, but were quickly quietened by twin strikes for Kuldeep Yadav. Babar was deceived by one that turned in to be bowled, while Fakhar’s sweep found the hands of Yuzvendra Chahal.

It was then Pandya’s turn to take back-to-back wickets, with Shoaib Malik falling for a first-ball duck. From being a couple of hits away from safety on the DLS chart, Pakistan gave it away. Another spell of rain shortened the game to 40 overs, and they returned needing 136 off five overs – too big an ask.

Virat Kohli said: “The pitch wouldn’t have made much of a difference. The ball started turning in the second half of the first innings. But we wanted to bowl first to, if you bowled in the right areas, there was joy to be had. “Rohit’s knock was outstanding again. KL helped Rohit, who showed why he’s such a good ODI player again today. It was ateam effort to get to 336.

“Kuldeep Yadav was brilliant. Babar and Fakhar were trying to play him out, but I wanted him to have a longer spell. The ball to dismiss Babar was an outstanding delivery. I think today was the best he bowled at this World Cup. “I think they outplayed us in the CHampions Trophy final, but if you focus on this game as too emotional, things can go wrong. We never approach them from that perspective. We are professional about it and the result is what matters.

Sarfaraz said: “We won a good toss but didn’t bowl in the right areas, and Rohit played very well. Our plan was to pitch the ball up to Rohit, but we didn’t execute it well. It was a good toss to win but we didn’t capitalise on it. “We picked two spinners because of the moisture. The credit goes to India’s batsmen for bowling so well. We also lost the match in those three overs where we lost four wickets. Fakhar and Imam were going really well, but we collapsed after that. “Definitely, it’s getting tougher and now e have to win all remaining games.”

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