Big players come out with bigger performances on the biggest stage. And it doesn’t get bigger than a World Cup India-Pakistan clash.
India were without in-form opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and went into the Manchester match with a new opening combination of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. And in overcast conditions, the two openers cashed in by adding 136 runs inside 24 overs.
Rohit led the way with a belligerent 140 off just 113 balls with 14 fours and three sixes. The Mumbai opener got out with more than 11 overs to go, missing out on a golden opportunity to get his fourth ODI double century.
But all that could have been avoided by Pakistan inside the first hour if their fielders had been alert to two clear chances offered by India.
In the 10th over of India’s innings, KL Rahul tucked Wahab Riaz to mid wicket and Rohit quickly turned for a second. The fielder Fakhar Zaman threw to the bowler’s end instead of the striker’s end, when Rohit was halfway down the pitch. A decent throw to the keeper would have found Rohit yards short.
The very next over, Rahul went for another quick single off Imad Wasim to point. Rohit was once again well short of the crease but Shadab Khan’s throw from point was well off the mark.
Those two chances – with Rohit yet to cross 40 – cost Pakistan dearly.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT
Pakistan’s ground fielding cost them the game against Australia, as they missed three catches and had multiple misfields and overthrows. Their poor ground fielding gave Rohit two lives and he didn’t need a third invitation to make the most of it.
Getting chances in modern ODI cricket is hard enough. Wasting multiple opportunities in successive games is just asking for trouble.
Shikhar Dhawan’s thumb injury precludes his involvement with KL Rahul moving to opener and Vijay Shankar coming into the XI for a highly-anticipated encounter in which there were almost 800,000 applications for tickets.
Pakistan have backed their spinners, with Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim replacing Shaheen Shah Afridi and Asif Ali.
There was a fevered atmosphere both inside and outside the ground ahead of a meeting in which rain is expected to play a part as the day progresses.
India have won all six World Cup meetings between the teams.
Who will prevail in Manchester?
Find out by following the ball-by-ball commentary below.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was “very relieved” after his side registered their first win at the Cricket World Cup, beating Afghanistan by nine wickets in Cardiff on Saturday.
Having failed to win any of their first four matches, the Proteas dismissed a winless Afghanistan for 125 after two rain delays cut the match to 48 overs.
Imran Tahir struck twice in his first over and took 4-29 as Afghanistan lost five for eight in 29 balls. Quinton de Kock made 68 as South Africa reached their revised target of 127 with 19.5 overs to spare.
“Very relieved. Feel a little bit lighter,” admitted Du Plessis.
“But I think in all our cricket today it was much better and much more competitive. We spoke a lot about energy in the field and stuff and I think you can really, really see a big difference today in the team.”