Cricket World Cup 2019: Rohit Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav make it 7-0 for India against Pakistan

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Kuldeep starred with the ball. Image - CWC/Twitter.

The highly anticipated clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan in the 2019 ICC World Cup turned out to be a lopsided contest in the end with the Men in Blue prevailing by 89 runs via D/L method in Manchester.

A second century of the tournament from Rohit Sharma was at the heart of India’s big win at Old Trafford in a rain-effected tie with the right-hander’s 113-ball 140 setting up a daunting total of 336-5. Pakistan could only muster 212-6 in response in their revised quota of 40 overs.

India’s attempt to defend 336 started off on a bad note with seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar pulling his hamstring just three overs into his spell. Bhuvneshwar had to leave the field with Vijay Shankar asked to finish the remainder of the over and the India all-rounder struck of his very first ball by trapping Imam-ul-Haq lbw.

Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam resurrected Pakistan’s hopes with a 104-run stand but Kuldeep Yadav dismissed both of them in successive overs to put India on top. Things turned from bad to worse for the Men in Green shortly after with Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik falling off successive deliveries to Hardik Pandya.

When skipper Sarfraz Ahmed became Shankar’s second victim of the day after playing on, the writing was well and truly on the wall for Pakistan. By the time they came back to bat after a rain interruption, the target had been revised to 302 required off 40 overs and that proved too huge a mountain to scale for Pakistan’s lower order.

Earlier, Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed’s decision to field first after winning the toss backfired with India’s openers running away to an excellent start.

Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul survived a probing opening spell from Mohammad Amir before going on establishing a 136-run stand for the first wicket. Both batsmen brought up their respective half-centuries before Rahul (57) drove a Wahab Riaz delivery straight into the hands of Babar Azam.

The wicket did little to stop India’s march with Rohit continuing to fire on all cylinders in the company of Virat Kohli. The opener had survived an early run-out scare and he went on make Pakistan pay with a swashbuckling century brought up in just 85 deliveries.

Rohit upped the tempo after bringing up his 24th ODI ton and was looking good for a double century before perishing to a scoop shot on 140 (113). The excellent Amir helped Pakistan make some inroads in the final 10 overs with the pacer dismissing the dangerous Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni in quick succession.

Kohli held one end up for India with a fine half-century before his 77-run knock was brought to an end by Amir.

KEY MAN

Rohit Sharma

The India deputy skipper was the mastermind of India’s big win with his brisk innings of 140 setting up the platform for a huge total. The opening batsman was batting with a new partner in KL Rahul with Shikhar Dhawan injured and took on the responsibility of being the more attacking batsman.

Cashing in on his good form leading up to the clash, Rohit was watchful against Mohammad Amir at the start before setting loose with a flurry of boundaries at Old Trafford. He formed important stands with Rahul and Kohli while racing away to a 24th ODI ton and did not allow Pakistan’s leg-spinner in Shadab Khan to settle down at all.

Rohit dictated terms for the entire 39 overs he was at the crease and his explosive innings paved the way for India’s domination on the day.

KEY TAKEAWAY

Kuldeep’s brilliance opens the floodgates

Despite Pakistan losing Imam-ul-Haq early in their chase of 337, they had regrouped nicely through a promising stand between Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam. The two batsmen rode out a testing period and were starting to press their foot on the accelerator as they brought up a century stand.

With India already a bowler short due to Bhuvneshwar’s injury, things were starting to look ominous for the Men in Blue with Kohli starting to run out of ideas. That is when Kuldeep provided the inspiration with the wrist-spinner beating Babar all-ends up with some sharp turn and guile.

Kuldeep then got the better of Fakhar in his very next over and all of a sudden Pakistan had lost both their set batsmen in a daunting chase. Those crucial breakthroughs by Kuldeep saw the wheels completely fall off Pakistan’s chase with Hardik Pandya picking up two wickets in as many balls soon after.

KEY STAT

Kohli becomes fastest to 11,000

In the course of his 77-run knock, India skipper Kohli breached another landmark in the form of 11,000 ODI runs. The 222 innings taken by the superstar batsman makes him the fastest to get to the mark and broke a longstanding record held by Sachin Tendulkar.

Tendulkar’s 11,000 runs had come in 276 innings and for Kohli to do it in 54 fewer innings is a testament to his ODI greatness.

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