MOM – Rohit Sharma
Winner – India
Rohit scintillating 140. Rohit ticked his fastest ODI century in this match and played like a Hitman from ball 1. Never looked rusty at the pitch even though Amir was going through a super spell with conditions supporting fast bowlers a little bit. He started cautiously against Amir and new ball and once the first session (1-10 overs) is done, he raised the accelerator and played to all parts of the ground. Specially when spinners came to bowl, he went against them and smashed boundaries. He reached his fastest ODI 100 in 30th over and looked in a good position to reach his 4th double hundred. In 39th over, he tried to improvise the short (scoop shot) and gave an easy catch to Wahab at short fine leg.
Rahul matured half century as an opener in his first match. Rahul played very well although he didn’t make a big score. He played well because it is his first match as an opener with Rohit in WC and a high- pressure game. He played the first phase very cautiously and helped Rohit to play freely. He looked in a great touch with pull shorts, cut shorts and reached his half century in 22nd over with a big six over extra cover. In the next over, he got out to a slow ball when he tried to play over the covers.
Kohli backbone innings till the end. Kohli as usual , one more day in office kind of game. Came in, played superbly and took India to a great score. The good thing about his innings is when Rohit is in full form, Kohli just took singles and gave the strike to Rohit and he played at a strike rate of 60 to 70. Once Rohit got out, he pressed the accelerator and started smashing the ball and within no time, the strike rate reached 95 to 100. Finally got out to a bouncer in 48th over but replays showed that it’s a not out and Kohli walked out.
Kuldeep’s magic spell in the middle. During my pre-match analysis, I said Kuldeep will be my choice as he will put pressure on Pakistani batsman and he did the same thing during the match. Pakistan lost just one wicket and scoring at 4 to 5 runs per over, Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman started scoring with big boundaries. Kuldeep was good till that time by not leaking much runs but didn’t get a wicket. In 24th over , he bowled a dream ball for any spinner , he tossed up the ball, it pitched just in front of the off-stump and turned back in and bhoom , its clean bowled. Superb delivery to get rid of the dangerous batsman. In his next over, he again tossed up to Fakhar Zaman who is trying to play sweep and got edge and simple catch to Chahal. These two wickets opened the gates to Pakistan Middle order.
Hardik came in as soon as Rohit got out but didn’t create the impact as in last match in first 10 balls but after that once again, he proved why he is a dangerous batsman. But this time his heroics is with the ball. After Kuldeep picked two wickets, it’s the experienced batsman Hafeez and followed by Shoaib Malik. In 27th over, Hafeez Played a nice-looking flick short but to his bad luck, it was straight to the only man at deep square. It was not a great ball, but it looks like the fielder was tailor made to that ball. In the next ball, he bowled Shoaib Malik with a great ball, just bounced on to Shoaib Malik and turned back in to get a inside edge. These two wickets confirmed took Indian winning percentage to 98%.
Pakistan won the toss and as everyone expected they took bowling to utilize overcast conditions and took advantage of first 10 overs. But India went into bat with a different plan to see off the first 10 overs and take advantage of their strong batting lineup like Australia Match. India planned and executed to the top mark.
Rohit and Rahul played a very careful innings in first 10 overs and didn’t play big or risky shots against Amir. On the other end Hasan Ali failed to keep up the pressure created by Amir, so India took advantage of that and scored good amount of runs in his bowling to keep the run rate at a decent clip.
In 7th over, Wahab got into the attack but its already late as the Indian openers were comfortable and played him well with out much discomfort. The next bowling change was Imad Wasim, the only bowler who looked a decent enough in the entire match after Amir.
When once Amir was taken off and spinners came into the attack, it was India’s game and they started scoring big shots. In 12th over Rahul and Rohit smashed two fours and six to Shadab Khan and Rohit reached his 34 ball Half century with a four.
In 22nd over, Rahul reached his half century with a big six to the midwicket. As spinners are not much effective, Pakistan Captain bought back Wahab. In his first over, he got two official warnings as he is stepping into the dangerous area on the pitch when he is trying to bowl over the wicket. This forced him to come around the wicket and then he got Rahul’s wicket for the first ball. Rahul tried to play over the covers and gave a simple catch to Babar Azam.
Kohli waked out to the middle and started his innings slowly similar to Australia match. On the other hand Rohit is busy in sending the ball to all parts of the ground. As Rohit took the responsibility of scoring, Kohli played an anchor role and didn’t bother about his strike rate. Rohit in 30th over, reached his fastest ODI hundred. He looked good to reach double hundred but in 39th over, he tried to play scoop and gave an easy catch to Wahab.
Panday walked in as everyone thought and looked rusty in his first 10 balls but after that he started hitting. In 44th over, he tried helicopter shot to the biggest side of the boundary and got out in the deep. It was a massive wicket as he could have gone and scored big.
Dhoni came in but to everyone disappointment he got out to Amir. He tried for a big shot, edged and caught by keeper. The entire stadium turned to silence as their hero got out to just 1 in his so-called last game against Pakistan in World cup.
In 45th over, Kohli reached 11k runs (fastest by a batsman in ODI history). What a batsman, run machine, India backbone, Indian Captain. Superb display of batting by Virat Kohli throughout his journey and made fans happy by reaching 11k runs , the third Indian Batsman after Sachin and Saurav.
Rain god came out after 45th and halted the game for 30 min and when play resumed, Kohli got out to Amir which was not out but he walked out.
Jadhav and Pandya looked reasonably ok and took the score to 336 for 5.
Pakistan started well although the scoring rate was low, they started well without loosing a wicket in first 4 overs. Bhuvi got injured in 5th over which ruled him out for the entire match and for couple of matches to go. Kohli gave the ball to Shankar to complete the two remaining balls, and in his first ball in the WC, he got Imam -ul-Haq’s wicket. It’s a straight ball with a small deviation into the pads and caught LBW infront of the wicket.
Babar Azam came out and along with Fakhar Zaman, played a good innings and made Pakistan to come back into the match. Although the scoring rate was going up, those two tried to play the spin off and want to attack Pandya or Shankar. They looked dangerous in the middle . Brilliant captaincy by Kohli once again as he continued with Kuldeep although they tried to see him off. In 24th over he bowled a brilliant ball to get rid of Babar Azam and in 26th over he tossed up the ball and got rid of Fakhar Zaman.
He opened the gates to the Pakistan Middle order with those two wickets and as asking rate going up, its very difficult for any new batsman to go after the bowlers from first ball.
In 27th over, Hardik confirmed the win with two wickets , Hafeez and Shoaib Malik. Once they both got out , its just a formality innings as the run rate went beyond the chase with 10 in an over and without standard batsman at the pitch.
Imad and Sarfaraz tried to build the partnership but it was too late. Sarfaraz got out to Shankar in 34th over when he tried to play off side but got an inside edge. With this wicket , its confirmed that India is going to make the count 7-0. Rain god also came to know that and as already the match became one-sided , he came into the party and halted the match for almost 20 to 30 min. Play resumed and Pakistan got a revised target of 302 in 40 overs. So they have to score 136 of 30 balls when the play resumed which was an impossible task with 6 wickets down.
Imad and Shadab played till 40th over and Pakistan reached 212 for 6.
To all Indian fans joy, India emerged as a winner for 7th time against Pakistan and Virat successfully carried 27 years record and kept it alive for next 4 years.
More than a win against Pakistan, its once again a clinical performance by Indian team with Bat and Ball and registered their 3rd win without a loss in WC.
With all this confidence, they will be playing with Afghanistan on Saturday. Super Sunday with India win.
See you all on Saturday. Signing off – Jack.