Pakistan bow to Indian might

Pakistan bow to Indian might
Laying waste to all the controversies that has dominated their build-up to the Champions Trophy, favourites India produced a thoroughly professional performance to kick-off their title defence on a rousing note here on Sunday.

On a rain-marred day that witnessed two major interruptions during their batting, the Men In Blue made the most of a largely ordinary Pakistan bowling effort to post a challenging 319/3 in 48 overs to send the sold-out Edgbaston crowd into raptures.

Openers Rohit Sharma (91, 119b, 7x4, 2x6) and Shikhar Dhawan (68, 65b, 6x4, 1x6) laid the foundation with a cautious yet brisk start, captain Virat Kohli (81 not out, 68b, 6x4, 3x6) played a typical well-constructed innings before Yuvraj Singh (53, 32b, 8x4, 1x6) and newbie Hardik Pandya (20, 6b, 3x6) hammered blazing knocks to leave the Pakistanis battered.

Needing 289 from 41 overs after another spell of rain disrupted their chase, Pakistan just couldn't get going amidst some wonderful bowling from the Indians. While they exercised caution at the start, the steadily mounting run-rate meant Pakistan had to explode at some. And when they tried to do so, they imploded in customary fashion, folding up for 164 as India posted a thumping 124-run win via D/L method.

Pakistan actually started the contest on a cracking note when young pacer Mohammed Amir bowled a brilliant opening over. Right from the first ball that fizzed past the Rohit, left-armer Amir was on the money and in fact unlucky not to get a wicket.

Despite being beaten completely in the opening over, Rohit, making a return to international cricket after suffering a thigh injury in October last year, composed himself and gave the respect the bowler deserved. He didn't play any loose shots and was also helped to a great extent when Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed shockingly started with left-arm spinner Imad Wasim at the other end when another pacer in overcast, helpful conditions could have a helped.

Rohit and Dhawan, highly instrumental in India's triumph four years ago in England, chose the right balls to attack and defended the ones that needed to be in the first Powerplay. Gaining confidence slowly, they then began to step on the pedal as the noise in the stadium started to rise.

Dhawan then perished against the rain of play, stepping down the track and hitting a full toss from leg-spinner Shadab Khan straight into the hands of Azhar Ali at deep midwicket, bringing an end to the 136-run opening wicket association.

Kohli then walked to a raucous ovation and the skipper, man of the match in the last three matches across all formats against Pakistan, looked busy from the start. He relied more in singles and twos while Rohit too chose to tighten his game in the middle-overs.

Like Dhawan, Rohit too perished when seemingly set for a big one, caught short while going for a quick single. Although he trudged off disappointed, he knew he had set the stage for his colleagues.

Dropped on 8 by Hasan Ali, southpaw Yuvraj, a big-match player, made the most of the reprieve as he carted the Pakistani bowlers to all parts of the ground. And with Kohli also exploding from the other end, runs came in a torrent.

Pandya, who walked in at the fall of Yuvraj’s wicket, just continued from he had left off in the warm-up game against Bangladesh a few days ago, hammering three sixes off the first three balls of the final over. India collected a whopping 72 runs of the last four overs and 37 of the last two. Looking down and out at the halfway stage, Pakistan never recovered thereafter as India galloped home without much discomfort.

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