India ease past Pakistan in Old Trafford clash
Sharma century sets up comfortable World Cup win
A fabulous century by Rohit Sharma helped India make it seven wins from seven matches against Pakistan in ICC Cricket World Cup matches with a comfortable 89-run victory on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method at a sold-out and noisy Old Trafford.
Put in to bat India made an outstanding start with a century partnership between Sharma and K.L.Rahul, the pair overcoming a slightly nervous few overs when play began-understandable given the pre-match build up.
After taking a steady 53 runs from the first powerplay, the Indian duo rode their luck as Pakistan missed two run out good opportunities in the 10th and 11th overs with Sharma the beneficiary both times when he had made 32 and 38.
And the Indian openers made the most of a good wicket to increase the scoring tempo, taking 17 from Shahdab Khan’s opening over-the 12th of the innings-with Sharma pulling the first six of the day and then cutting the following ball for four to reach a 34-ball half century.
The century partnership arrived in the 18th over while Rahul reached his fifty in memorable fashion with a six to midwicket off Shoaib Malik.
Both Amir and Wahab Riaz received warnings for running onto the pitch as India piled on the pressure but the opening partnership of 136 came to an end in the 24th over the ball after Wahab’s second warning when Rahul spooned up a catch to Babar Azam after making 57.
India captain Virat Kohli joined Sharma to keep the momentum going with another big partnership of 98 runs inside 15 overs.
Sharma cut Hassan Ali for six on his way to a 24th ODI century from 85 balls while Kohli, having taken his time to assess conditions, punched a beautiful drive between cover and mid-off from Muhammad Amir for his first boundary as India swept past the two hundred mark in the 35th over.
Sharma’s fine innings came to an end when he scooped a gentle catch to Wahab off Hassan Ali for 140 (14 fours, 3 sixes) in the 39th over to leave India on 234-2.
Hardik Pandya hammered a quick-fire 26 off 19 balls before departing to a catch at long on by Babar off Amir but Kohli, having reached a second consecutive half century, moved swiftly on striking 25 off 13 balls in thrilling style during the closing overs, either side of a brief interruption for rain.
The India captain sportingly ‘walked’ after nicking a quick bouncer from Amir to depart for a valuable 77 in the 48th over-although TV replays appeared to show no contact with the ball-and the innings ended on 336-5 with Amir the standout bowler for Pakistan with 3-47.
Pakistan lost an early wicket in their reply in unusual circumstances. Bhuvneshwar Kumar slipped in his bowling stride and left the field injured to be replaced for the fifth ball of the fifth over by Vijay Shankar who incredibly struck with his first delivery, trapping Imam-ul-Haq lbw for 7.
It was the just the third occasion that a bowler has taken a wicket with his first ball in a World Cup match after Ian Harvey of Australia and Malachi Jones of Bermuda, and the setback saw Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam have to rebuild slowly in the face of some accurate bowling by the Indian attack.
Having built a platform of 87-1 after 20 overs from which they could attack the remaining 250 runs required in 30 overs, both batsmen went on the attack with Fakhar sweeping Yuzvendra Chahal for six and Babar did likewise two overs later.
But after posted their century stand Babar was bowled through the gate for 48 by a terrific delivery from Kuldeep Yadav, a decisive blow, and that heralded the first of four wickets to fall for 12 runs in 18 balls to leave Pakistan in disarray on 129-5 after 27 overs.
Fakhar top-edged a sweep to short fine leg off Yadav for 58 while Mohammad Hafeez was caught at deep square off Pandya for 9 and Shoaib Malik chopped onto his stumps first ball.
There was no way back after that for Pakistan with Sarfaraz Ahmed bowled for 12 by Vijay Shankar to make the score 165-6 just before rain halted play after 35 overs with one run added to the total.
After a delay of one hour, the teams returned for a further 5 overs with Pakistan facing the impossible task of scoring 135 more runs to win.
They managed to add 42 to finish on 212-6 with Imad Wasim 46 not out.