World Cup 2019, India v Pakistan: Awry Pakistan beaten by Indian juggernaut
The win saw India's record against the arch-rivals read 7-0 in favor of the Men in Blue and in addition, saw India still remain unbeaten in this World Cup while Pakistan languish one place above rock bottom on the points table with only one win to show from five matches.
It was another cloudy day in Manchester but the rain gods seemed to have been appeased by the prayers of close to a billion people who would have prayed for the rain to stay away. The Indian innings saw only one interruption in the 47th over after Pakistan elected to field first having won toss, a decision that has sought much criticism.
Pakistan paid for Sarfraz Ahmed's mistake at the toss as the Pakistan skipper opted to field first. The front line pacers Mohammad Amir and Hassan Ali hardly managed to extract any sort of seam or swing movement.
The ploy of bowling short balls to the Indian batting line-up did not work as the short balls were comfortably dispatched by the new Indian opening duo of Rohit and Rahul.
Rohit Sharma looked in sublime touch as he brought up his fifty of just 34 balls, his quickest one thus far while KL Rahul played the role of anchor to perfection, notching up a 78-ball 57 laced with three fours and two sixes.
The spinners too bore no fruit for Pakistan as the Indians took them to the cleaners. Shadab Khan was off-color and went for plenty while Imad Wasim finished wicket-less as well.
Pressure plays a huge role in such games and it seemed to have taken a toll on Pakistan’s already average fielding as they let go of as many as three run-out opportunities early on, a shocker being Fakhar Zaman's throw to the wrong end while Rohit Sharma was half-way down the pitch at the other.
This meant that India kept building comfortable partnerships as Pakistan desperately looked for wickets. Rohit cruised his way to 140 before getting a little too cheeky and guiding one straight down short fine leg’s throat. Even that didn’t really stall India’s innings as skipper Kohli held fort at one end and the rest batted around him.
Mohammad Amir bowled a couple of tight overs towards the end and Virat Kohli’s bizarre dismissal was the only thing that went in favor of Pakistan. However, that too didn’t stop India from powering their way through to a commanding 336 as Pakistan had to create history to chase that down.
With bat in hand, Pakistan were off to a slow start even though India suffered a major blow as Bhuvneshwar Kumar pulled up short in his 3rd over and walked off the field with a hamstring injury.
Vijay Shankar, introduced into the attack to finish off the over trapped Imam-ul-Haq in front the very next delivery to land an early blow on the chase. A good partnership followed for Pakistan between Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman as they shared a 104-run stand that set Pakistan's chase on course.
Kuldeep Yadav, though, sent them both packing in quick succession and what followed was a barrage of Pakistan wickets as their middle order folded without any resistance. Rain was always around the corner and Pakistan were well behind the D/L par score. After a couple of rain breaks, the writing was well set on the wall as India collected yet another comfortable victory in the end.
Yet, even as India celebrate a win, there are some injury concerns which could come to hurt the team in the upcoming games. It’s quite a blow for India to lose both Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to injuries and the news is that both of them will not be available for another two to three games.
However, bigger concerns for Pakistan are in line as their bowling looked quite deflated and some of their experienced players have not shouldered much responsibility. They will need to really step-up if at all they are to make the semis. India, on the other hand, are right on track in the path of sealing a spot in the semifinals.
Also read – Cricket World cup winners