ICC Cricket World Cup, Old Trafford
India 336-5: Rohit 140, Kohli 77, KL Rahul 57; Amir 3-47
Pakistan 212-6: Fakhar 62
India beat Pakistan by 89 runs (DLS)
Today was a day that will live long in the memory of those present at Old Trafford as two heavyweights of world cricket in India and Pakistan fought hard in their first meeting since last years Asia Cup. Rohit Sharma’s name will flow off the tongues of a capacity 23,500 crowd whether it be in a praise or vain as they pass through the turnstiles to head home.
The full house most certainly created a party atmosphere and this was evident from the outset as deafening cheers rung around the 162-year-old venue. Passers-by would definitely have been forgiven for thinking that this was the football ground half a mile further up the road. However it was the sea of blue and green that greeted the eyes inside.
The hokey cokey wouldn’t sound like a bad way to describe this “party” as the players were in and out like yoyos no thanks to the rain showers that passed overhead. That didn’t dampen spirits though as a large majority of the fans inside the ground remained seated with umbrellas up.
There is no denying that it was frustrating, especially as it was billed as being the biggest game of the tournament. 500,000 people applied for tickets and the International Cricket Council could have sold the ground out more than 20 times over. This also goes along with the global television audience of over one billion people, which is the equivalent to that of nine NFL Superbowls.
Meanwhile, on the pitch Sharma was the star of the show for India as he fired 140 off 113 balls to put his side in a good position at the interval. Having been inserted, a new opening batting pair got off to a great start, scoring 53 in the opening powerplay – which was their best start of the tournament so far, surpassing the 41 runs they scored against Australia at The Oval last Sunday. It could have been more if 57% of the balls in this time weren’t dots.
Although, a solid foundation was built and that start counted for something as the pair added a further 83, each collecting half-centuries before Rahul (57) lobbed a drive to Babar Azam off the bowling of Wahab Riaz.
Not to worry though as Virat Kohli strode to the middle, much to the delight of the Indian contingent in the stadium. Kohli scored 77 runs, sharing partnerships Sharma, Hardik Pandya (26) and MS Dhoni (1).
The Indian captain brought up his 50 off 51 deliveries and a short while later he notched his 11,000th ODI run in just his 222nd innings – becoming the third Indian to reach the feat, joining an elite club which also includes Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. The 30-year-old became the fastest man to reach 11,000 runs, knocking the legendary Tendulkar off his perch, beating him by 54 innings.
Kohli was the last man to fall after edging Mohammad Amir behind to Sarfaraz Ahmed, but India were well placed at 314-5.
Kedar Jadhav and Vijay Shankar finished unbeaten on nine and 15 respectively as India amassed 336-5 in their 50 overs – their highest score against Pakistan in England and the highest ODI total at Old Trafford.
Pakistan had a mammoth task ahead and it didn’t start well as Imam Ul-Haq was trapped leg before wicket by Shankar’s first ball, after he replaced Bhuvneshwar Kumar as the latter was forced off the field with a tight left hamstring.
They failed to capitalise on the fielding restrictions and in complete contrast to their opponents suffered their lowest powerplay total of the tournament – reaching 38-1.
Fakhar Zaman and Azam looked to rebuild after the slow start. Zaman later reached his fifty off 59 balls – achieving his highest score of the tournament in the process. This wasn’t a blemish though as he survived a stumping appeal when on 43. The duo notched their 100 partnership with the penultimate ball of the 23rd over.
Seven balls later Kuldeep Yadav made a breakthrough. The leg-spinner who collected a five-wicket haul here in a T20 international against England last year bowled Azam two runs short of his own fifty to leave Pakistan on 117 for two.
The old adage of one brings two came to fruition nine balls later as Zaman (62) top-edged a sweep to Yuzvendra Chahal at short fine-leg.
The wickets continued to tumble as new man Hafeez (9) holed out to Shankar in the deep off the bowling of Pandya.
The crowd erupted following the next ball as Pandya made Shoaib Malik play on to leave Pakistan in complete disarray at 129 for five. This meant that Pakistan had lost four for 12 in only 19 balls.
The rain began to fall again and Sarfaraz departed for 12 – all of which came in singles and Pakistan were left on 165 for six still requiring a further 171 runs off the remaining 95 balls and they needed to score at 11 runs an over.
Five balls later, the umpires deemed the rain to be too heavy and called the covers on. Somehow, this wasn’t the end as the umpires called the players back out for five more overs where Pakistan needed a further 136 runs and were required to go at a touch over 27 runs per over. It’s safe to say that Pakistan weren’t successful in the revised chase and fell 89 runs short via the DLS method.
The result means that India leapfrog hosts England to go into third. They now travel to Southampton where they will take on Afghanistan at the Hampshire Bowl. As for Pakistan, they now lie second from bottom, having only won one of their five matches so far and have a week until their next match against South Africa at Lord’s.
Feature image: PA Images