ICC World Cup: India-Pak battle turns into anti-climax in Ahmedabad
An in-form Rohit Sharma made light of the chase as India stretched their World Cup record against Pakistan to 8-0
The ‘mother of all cricketing battles’, as the India-Pakistan league match in Ahmedabad was billed, has turned out to be an anti-climax. It will be difficult to select the pick of the Indian bowlers as five of them, barring part-timer Shardul Thakur, set the stage with two wickets apiece to choke Pakistan after sending them in to bat at the 'world’s biggest stadium'.
A target of 192 was certainly not enough to challenge India, and captain Rohit Sharma (86 off 63 balls) ensured it was a no-contest. Rohit, who now has the highest number of centuries in the 50-over World Cup (seven), toyed with the Pakistan attack while Shreyas Iyer (53 not out) was the next highest scorer.
The hosts have now made it three out of three with a seven-wicket win and extended their winning sequence to 8-0 against Pakistan in the history of the 50-over ICC men's World Cup. Babar Azam’s men, who are on two wins from three matches, need to shrug off the demoralising defeat and move on for a tilt at the semi-finals.
Pakistan’s scorecard suggests it was nothing short of an implosion. From openers Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique putting up 41 runs for the first wicket to two of their best batters, skipper Babar Azam (50) and Mohammed Rizwan (49) taking the score to 155 for two, it looked like the green shirts were keen to make a match of it.
However, it was a meltdown thereafter in the face of some relentless pressure from the Indian bowlers. Rohit marshalled his resources nicely by going for a pace-spin attack for most of the time, which did not allow Pakistan to free their arms even when Babar and Rizwan were in the middle. Once Mohammed Siraj came back for a second spell, Babar tried to run down a cross-seam delivery from him to third man and was bowled.
The floodgates opened thereafter as the Pakistan batters were at pains to read Kuldip Yadav (2/35) while Jasprit Bumrah (2/19) showed what India had been missing for the past one year. Employing the same action, he breached the defence of Mohammed Rizwan and the sharp off cutter which bowled Shadab Khan, leaving the latter shaking his head in disbelief.