Rohit Sharma (123* off 129 balls) and Virat Kohli (96* off 78 balls) starred as defending champions India cruised into the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy final after a nine-wicket win over Bangladesh at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Thursday.
Chasing a target of 265, India got off to a brilliant start with Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan (46 off 34 balls) adding 87 runs for the opening wicket.
Dhawan, especially, was very aggressive as he hit seven fours and one six during his stay at the crease.
There was no respite for the Bangladesh bowlers even after Dhawan’s dismissal as Kohli joined Rohit in the middle and the duo made sure that India were in complete control with an unbeaten 202-run partnership.
In the end, India reached the target with 9.5 overs to spare.
Earlier, the Indian bowlers did a good job to restrict Bangladesh to 264-7 in their 50 overs after Tamim Iqbal (70 off 82 balls) and Mushfiqur Rahim (61 off 85 balls) added a century-stand together.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar had got India off to a good start, picking up two wickets with the new ball to reduce Bangladesh to 31-2. Tamim and Mushfiqur, then, seemed to have given their side a brilliant platform as they put on a 123-run partnership for the third wicket.
The decision to bring on part-time spinner Kedar Jadhav was a big turning point in the match as he took the wickets of both the set batsmen. The 32-year-old managed to have impressive bowling figures of 6-0-22-2 at the end of his spell.
Jasprit Bumrah followed up the good work done by Jadhav, with a couple of wickets of his own as Bangladesh went from 154-2 to 229-7. A few boundaries from captain Mashrafe Mortaza (30* off 25 balls) helped Bangladesh get to 264, a total that was far from enough in the end.
India will now face arch-rivals Pakistan in what will be a highly-anticipated final at The Oval on Sunday.
Bangladesh 264-7, 50 overs [Tamim 70, Mushfiqur 61, Jadhav 2-22] lost to India 265-1, 40.1 overs [Rohit 123*, Kohli 96*, Mortaza 1-29] by nine wickets.
Player of the Match – Rohit Sharma.
Be it opener Fakhar Zaman or fast bowlers Rumman Raees and Faheem Ashraf, all have justified their inclusion, and have been key to Pakistan’s dream run into the final.
Zaman has hit 138 runs in three games and has got the best strike rate (117.94) among all Pakistan batsmen. The 27-year-old left-handed batsman has grown in strength with every match as his scores of 31, 50 and 57 suggest.
He has also plugged a big loophole at the top as his 118-run partnership with Azhar Ali against England was Pakistan’s first century stand in 35 one-day internationals in two years for the first wicket.
Somewhat similar has been the tale of the two pacers. The 23-year-old Ashraf did an admirable job against Sri Lanka when he was included in place of young leg-spinner Shadab Khan by claiming two wickets for 37 runs in 6.2 overs.
Raees had bigger shoes to fill when he stepped in for Mohammad Amir after the latter pulled out with back spasm on Wednesday morning. The 25-year-old left-arm pacer from Karachi hit the right areas and impressed with his slower deliveries to log bowling figures of 2-44 from nine overs in his first ODI.
Since the defeat to India, these new additions to Pakistan have not only infused fresh energy into the team but also brought good tidings.
Congrats to Pakistan on trouncing England today. Pak peaking at the right time. What a massive turn around in form from the start of #CT17
There was no doubt that this game would be between the Pakistan bowlers and English batsmen. But with Pakistan’s pace spearhead Mohammad Amir ruled out because of back spasm, England were handed a huge bonus.
Now it was upto the English batsmen to build upon this advantage but they wasted it with a tentative approach and had to be content with their lowest total in this year’s tournament.
Agreed, the variety in Pakistan’s bowling made it difficult to score runs but England’s batting was well-equipped to deal with it. Somebody had to play a long innings, a sheet anchor’s role to keep the Pakistan bowlers at bay.
Joe Root and Eoin Morgan looked like taking on that challenge but the frustration of not being able to score runs quickly got to them and they perished playing rash shots. It also exposed their ploy of having too many power-hitters in the line-up.
Barring Root, there is nobody who has a solid defence, like the old-fashioned Test-match types, because in such situations they are gold dust. Also, apart from Jonny Bairstow, none of the batsmen were successful in breaking the shackles.
Even Ben Stokes hung around for 64 balls for his 34 without hitting a single boundary. With the big-hitters faltering, it was all uphill for England.
Joe Root walks back after his dismissal [Getty Images]
SPINNERS STIFLE MORGAN AND CO.
The scoreboard will credit the pacers, led by the brilliant Hasan Ali, as having caused the biggest damage to England by claiming seven wickets but the spinners also played a key role.
Together, the three spinners — Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Hafeez — bowled 22 overs conceding just 89 runs and took one wicket, an important one at that, of Root.
What it meant was that for nearly half the innings, England – who love to play attacking cricket with their big-hitters – could only score at four an over. It allowed Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed the luxury of setting attacking fields for his pace bowlers, who responded in a rousing fashion, with their reverse swing troubling the batsmen further.
Knowing England’s weakness against spin, it was smart captaincy by Sarfraz who introduced his slow bowlers as early as the seventh over. The Welsh-born left-arm spinner Imad troubled Root the most with his quick-ish deliveries before leg-spinner Shadab and off-spinner Hafeez took turns to choke the flow of runs and dent England’s hopes.
England bowlers knew what to expect from the Cardiff track as they had played a game earlier on the same ground and had done exceedingly well to defend 310 runs and thrash New Zealand by 87 runs.
On Wednesday, the challenge was stiffer as they had a much lesser total to defend, so they were expected to come out all guns firing against a Pakistan batting line-up that had been wobbly throughout the tournament. But once a top edge of Fakhar Zaman’s bat off a Mark Wood bouncer soared behind the wicketkeeper for a six off the fourth ball of the innings, England’s hopes of an early breakthrough were dashed.
Zaman’s bravado caught the bowling off-guard as they lacked the ideas or discipline to curtail that onslaught. Apart from a testing Wood over that troubled Azhar Ali, the England bowlers did not have much of an effect on the Pakistan batsmen who maintained a run-rate of over five throughout.
It was as if the two innings were played on different pitches with the Pakistan bowlers all fire and brimstone while the England bowlers were all over the place. It’s evident in the fact that England hit 15 fours, only three in their last 15 overs, with no sixes whereas Pakistan smashed 17 fours and five sixes in just 37.1 overs.
Yes, it was a used track. Yes, it suited Pakistan more than England. But only two wickets defending 212? Definitely below par. 2/2 #CT17
Contrasting emotions: Shadab Khan and Joe Root [Getty Images]
England were shaping up well at the halfway stage of their innings scoring 118 runs for the loss of two wickets. It was also a period when the Pakistan spinners were in operation and runs were not coming at the pace as expected by England.
They were getting the odd boundary but the ones and twos were in short supply.
Joe Root, who had maintained a tight vigil for the most part of his innings tried to cut a shortish delivery from Shadab Khan but it bounced a bit more to take a faint edge on the way to Sarfraz Ahmed’s gloves.
It was a hammer blow for England as they lost their next seven wickets for the addition of just 83 runs.
Pakistan have shown a remarkable improvement in their fielding since the India match. They have flung themselves to stop boundaries and plucked some superb catches.
Top on that list has to be the catch of Fakhar Zaman, who sprinted from deep mid-wicket to his left and fully stretched himself to snaffle a Moeen Ali pull off Junaid Khan. It summed up Pakistan’s day in the field and also snuffed out all hopes of an England fightback.
Moeen, who has two ODI centuries under his belt, could have got England back into the game had he stayed longer but his dismissal in the 39th over only brought despair to the hosts.
Great day for our @lahoreqalandars boys @AzharAli_ and the man with the best name in world cricket Fakhar Zaman! Pakistan impressive today.
With England failing to get any wicket in the first 10 overs, captain Eoin Morgan turned to his talisman Ben Stokes in the hope of breaking the opening partnership between Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali.
Stokes, however, came a cropper as he lacked the discipline to make any impact and gave away 19 runs in his two overs at a crucial stage. The runs helped Zaman and Ali gain confidence as they went on to put up a century stand and shut out England completely from the game.
When the all-rounder was brought back into the attack he fared even worse giving away 15 runs with Mohammad Hafeez clubbing a six over long-on and Babar Azam driving a half-volley to the cover fence.
Stokes ended up conceding 38 runs in 3.1 overs and was the most expensive bowler in the match.