More than two billion eyes were on the Group B match of the two neighbouring countries yesterday. Whereas the ardent proponents of the Men in Blue would be ecstatic with the triumph of a whopping 124 runs by the defending champions, true cricket fiends will be utterly disappointed and for valid reasons.
Although the margin of victory looks gargantuan, India were not at their best yesterday in an overcast Edgbaston. Despite making some discernible mistakes on the field, especially during the second innings, India managed a pretty one-sided victory confirming how far Pakistan have fallen behind in the shorter formats of the game. Both the teams dropped a significant number of regulation catches. Fortunately for India, the opposition players were unable to capitalise on those reprieves which might not happen in their imminent encounters with Sri Lanka and South Africa.
As for Pakistan, they’ve lost the match halfway even before the match actually commenced. On a pitch that offers almost nothing to the spinners and against an opposition which is by far the best batting corps against spin (Avg. 68 runs per wicket against spin), Pakistan opened their bowling with a slow left-arm orthodox from one end which clearly provided the leeway required by the two Indian openers who opened the innings after a protracted hiatus of 17 months.
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, both of them accrued significant amount of runs (opening partnership of 136). Rohit played the bulk of the deliveries in the beginning and started off at a reasonably slow pace. Once they were set, they started bludgeoning a relatively inexperienced Pakistan bowling unit. Dhawan would be utterly disappointed for gifting his wicket to Shadab, the young leggie of 18 years, while trying to whack a juicy full-toss offered to him. He amassed 68 runs in a brisk pace before that. His partner Rohit also played in his usual panache of lackadaisical elegance with some buccaneering brutality and scored 91 before he was run out by Babar Azam. It is now quite conspicuous that while batting alongside Kohli, their running between the wickets needs some attention.
Despite some sporadic interruptions by rain, the Indian innings kept on moving swimmingly, courtesy some inexplicable decisions and the age-old problem of Pakistan of dropping dollies. Both Yuvraj and Kohli were reprieved and both of them made Pakistan pay for that. Yuvraj was particularly brutal with his elegant checked drives he played both down the ground and square of the wicket.
The situation exacerbated when both Md. Aamir and Wahab Riaz left the field hors de combat. India accumulated 70 odd runs in the last four overs aided by some fierce onslaught by Kohli (81* off 66), Yuvraj (53 off 32) and Hardik Pandya (20* off 6). India put on 319 losing just 3 wickets in 48 overs which finally transformed into a target of 289 in 41 overs for Pakistan.
Albeit Pakistan started off decently, once Bhuvneshwar trapped Ahmed Shazad in front of the stumps, they started grovelling. Azhar Ali put some fight with his aesthetically pleasing half-century but it was futile in the end. They finally succumbed 124 runs behind their target when Wahab Riaz couldn’t come out to bat for injury.
This is India’s biggest triumph in Champion’s trophy in terms of runs and it came against their arch-rivals albeit the match was far from being a memorable epic. Despite their sloppiness in the field, the Men in Blue managed another victory against the Men in Green in ICC tournaments at Edgbaston on a rainy Sunday.
India 319 for 3 (Rohit 91, Kohli 81*, Dhawan 68, Yuvraj 53) beat Pakistan 164 (Azhar 50, Umesh 3-30) by 124 runs (DLS method) MOM Yuvraj Singh