India crushed Pakistan to 89-run win in a rain redused match. In the end Pakistan needed 130 runs from their last 5 overs and it was impossible for them to achieve that. In a way, India has done its bit, achieved their own world cup of sorts and silenced their arch rivals into realizing who calls the shots in that part of the world.
Pakistan won the toss and skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed decided to field. Mohammad Amir, who apparently carried Pakistan’s expectations on the ground started the match with a sparkling maiden over. And that was no less than tense. Indian players carried the weight of 1.3 billion expectations and an ocean of blue in the stadium.
And that was (the maiden over) about where Pakistan’s luck bid them adieu. From that point onward, it was India and India cricket fans all the way. And the most reliable of Indian batsmen Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul took charge of the situation and the game was snatched away from Pakistan.
Although KL Rahul could achieve only a half century, Rohit scored his second hundred in three of his ICC World Cup innings. And India were set to score in the North of 350 runs and the game was progressing well in that direction.
But the lady luck wanted to give Pakistan hope – at least to fight on. The heavens opened up and the match was interrupted. The players were rushed off the field, mid-way through the 47th over while India looked set to achieve a score of 350-plus runs.
The hour-long rain break dampened India’s and Kohli’s chances to score their desired milestones. Kohli was out for 77 and India finished at 336 instead of 350. India’s untested middle-order scored only31 runs from the last 20 balls.
Pakistan’s hope was to put pressure on India’s fresh opening pair of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma and then perhaps to dominate India’s middle-order relying heavily on three pacers, Amir, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali. The strategy did not work. And India glided its way to a very dominant position of 336 runs for their innings.
Hasan Ali ended up conceding 84 runs in his nine overs. Against him, Sharma was just sensational and quickly reached 140. Everyone was thinking Sharma had planned to hit a double hundred but for one bad shot. Sharma attempted a funky scoop and gave a very simple soft catch direct to the fielder. All he could do after that was to whack his pads with his bat in frustration for missing out.
Kohli took charge of the game from then on and India was almost home without Pakistan even facing a single ball.
But when Pakistan took to crease, it did look they are going to give India a real fight. Azam’s classical strokes and Zaman’s unorthodox cuts and pulls took Pakistan past the 100-run mark for the loss of just one wicket.
And then Kuldeep Yadav, who has had a quiet World Cup till then, sent them both back with his magical left palm.
Kuldeep spun it big into the right-handed Azam, who looked set for big knock and was batting on 48.
And two balls later (in his next over), Yadav had Zaman mistiming a sweep and top-edging it for a catch at fine-leg.
When rain stopped play the second time, with Pakistan in tatters, they were 166/6 in 35 overs. On start of the play after the second interruption, Pakistan were given a recalibrated and unachievable target of 136 runs from five overs.
And they could not. India won the match by 89 runs and for many the victory was as sweet as winning the World Cup trophy.
- – Raj Kumar