Indians too good for Pakistan

Bowlers come to the party as Dhoni's men coast home in rain-marred tie

Indians too good for Pakistan

“It’s such a shame, it’s a dead rubber,” remarked an English journalist, obviously enamoured by the electric atmosphere at the Edgbaston stadium.

The final match in Group B between India and Pakistan had no bearing on the Champions Trophy. India had already qualified for the semifinal as the top team and their neighbouring rivals had made an early exit but the vocal capacity crowd livened up the gloomy ambience. With the forecasts for rain coming true, the game was interrupted on four occasions. As a result, the number of overs was reduced, target was revised thrice and entertainment came in staccato bursts.

At the end of it all, India cruised to 102/2 in 19.1 overs, after their target was set at 102 from 22 overs after the second interruption. The game had been reduced to a 40-over affair after a heavy spell of shower had consumed nearly two and a half hours of play during the Pakistan innings. The first disruption had lasted only 16 minutes.

The mandatory Power Play was reduced to eight overs and the batting Power Play was pegged at four overs. Since Pakistan had already played 10-over opening block with field restrictions, they got only two overs of batting Power Play. India, however, didn’t get batting Power Play after the latest revision under Duckworth-Lewis method for rain affected matches.

Having bowled out Pakistan for 165 in 39.4 overs, India were originally chasing 168 from 40, which was changed to 157 from 36 overs after the day’s third rain stoppage. India were 63/1 in 11.3 overs when another hour was lost due to rain and the target was revised for one last time. Needing 39 more from 63 balls, India got the required runs with 17 balls to spare to end the group stage with an all-win record. Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan (48, 41b, 5x4) once again laid a good foundation with a 58-run stand that paved the way for the clinical chase.  
             
The repeated stoppages did rob the game of its flow but the fact that we could have a result after an agonisingly long wait was in itself a miracle. But spare a thought for the tireless ground staff who uncomplainingly ferried the hover cover which has an elaborate process of spreading and closing it. 

With an eye on the sky, MS Dhoni put in Pakistan who wobbled and hobbled to an inadequate total. Indian bowlers proved hostile after they were provided with an opportunity to make use of the early assistance in the pitch. Man of the match Bhuvneshwar Kumar put India on right track with an impressive eight-over first spell (8-1-19-2) during which he accounted for opener Nasir Jamshed and Mohammad Hafeez.

In conditions tailor-made for his type of bowling, Bhuvneshwar troubled the Pakistani batsmen with his movement at appreciable pace.

In the middle overs, Ravindra Jadeja (2/30) and R Ashwin (2/35) did the trick, denying Pakistan any free runs. Pakistan innings had gathered some steam when Hafeez carted Umesh Yadav for two consecutive fours in the sixth over. Akmal followed suit in the next over as India gave away four fours in five balls after conceding no boundary in the first five overs. They, however, failed to construct any further meaningful partnership, losing wickets at regular intervals. The Indian fielding once again stood out, reflected in the three run outs they effected on the day.     
 
Unmindful of the inclement weather, spectators thronged the stadium in huge numbers. When the roars went up after the respective national anthems were played, it was apparent that there was going to be no contest in the stands with the large Indian contingent drowning the significant Pakistani voices. Players from either side were booed generously, sloganeering against each other’s countries was rampant but fortunately things never went beyond control. That they even managed a full Mexican wave after several failed attempts was an indicator that the rival fans had struck some chord amidst the obvious hostility.

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