India’s batsmen turned on the style in their blockbuster 2019 ICC World Cup clash with arch-rivals Pakistan with the Men in Blue registering a daunting total of 336-5 after being made to bat first in Manchester.
India’s solid batting display was built on an excellent innings from Rohit Sharma who registered his second ton of the competition in three games. The opener became only the first Indian batsman to register back-to-back ODI tons against Pakistan in a majestic innings of 140 (113) at Old Trafford.
Here, we take a closer look at what is Rohit’s best-ever ODI display against the Men in Green.
Opening the batting in the company of KL Rahul instead of his regular partner Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma was on the ball from the word go with shots coming off the middle of the bat.
He forged a mammoth 136-run stand with Rahul where he was the dominant batsman before following it up with a 98-run partnership alongside skipper Virat Kohli. Rohit was at his elegant best at Old Trafford as he brought up his 24th ODI ton off just 85 deliveries before shifting up a gear.
The opener was looking good for his fourth ODI double century but perished in the 39th over of the innings while attempting to scoop a Hasan Ali delivery.
While batting with Dhawan, it is usually Rohit who takes his time to get settled at the crease while the left-hander goes on the attack. With Dhawan injured, Rohit took on the responsibility of attacking while Rahul was the one content to bide his time.
It was an excellent tact by the India deputy skipper with Rahul struggling to rotate the strike at the start and it helped the Men in Blue stay on the front foot for the majority of their innings.
Rohit had been in good form leading up the clash and he cashed in on it on a good pitch at Old Trafford with a free-flowing innings. The right-hander was equally effective against both pacers and spinners and never really looked in any discomfort.
While his batting for the most part cannot be faulted, Rohit did have problems with his running during his partnership with Rahul. The lack of communication between the two batsmen was evident when Rohit was nearly run-out at one stage while attempting a suicidal second run.
Luckily for the batsman, Fakhar Zaman’s throw was at the wrong end of the pitch to give India a major reprieve.
Rohit’s dismissal was also a soft one and it came at a time where he was threatening to take the game away from Pakistan. The right-hander had been timing the ball brilliantly all day but he chose to take on the short fine leg fielder with a scoop shot off Hasan. With no pace in the delivery to work with, Rohit paid the price and threw away a massive opportunity to register a double ton.
VERDICT – 9/10
To score such a fine century in any World Cup match is special but to do in the high-pressure situation of an India-Pakistan clash is even more so. Rohit showed no signs of nerves on a big day in a classy innings filled with the most sumptuous of strokes.
It was his second ton of the tournament in three innings and he looks determined to make it a big World Cup for himself. His ominous form bodes well for India’s chances of going all the way and they will be hoping he can sustain it for the remainder of the tournament.
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.