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Saturday April 13, 2024

India hammer Pakistan in Champions Trophy mismatch

By Khalid Hussain
June 05, 2017

BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan on Sunday made a disastrous start to their ICC Champions Trophy campaign when they slumped to a disappointing 124-run defeat against arch-rivals India here at Edgbaston.

In a match that was affected by rain and decided by D/L method, Pakistan allowed the Indians to amass 319-3 in 48 overs and then crumbled in the run-chase. In the end they could only manage 164 from 33.4 overs.

It was an embarrassing performance from the Pakistanis in front of a packed crowd, which included thousands of their fans. They were never really in the hunt after the quartet of Rohit Sharma (91), Virat Kohli (81 not out), Shikhar Dhawan (68) and Yuvraj Singh (53) piled up a big total in mostly overcast conditions.

Pakistan’s target was revised to 289 from 41 overs after a series of rain breaks. They never really showed real intent to go after it and apart from Azhar Ali who top-scored with 50 no other batsman could put up a real fight. Even Azhar’s fifty was slow in the situation as he consumed 65 balls to score it. The only other major contribution came from the seasoned Mohammad Hafeez who hit 33 off 43 balls.

Pakistan had promised fireworks with the ball in their big Champions Trophy game. But it was the Indians who delivered with their bats. Probably, the fireworks that head coach Mickey Arthur and captain Sarfraz Ahmed had talked about were blunted by the Birmingham rain that came back again and again to spoil the fun for a packed crowd at Edgbaston.

From the word go, apart from a few superb overs from Mohammad Amir, Pakistan were on the defensive. It seemed that Sarfraz’s bowlers were given the orders to stop India from scoring freely. To give the devil his due, the bowlers almost did that. But in the end, if a strong batting side like India has wickets in hands then the flow of boundaries is only a matter of time. When big-hitters like Kohli, Yuvraj and Hardik Pandya finally went on a rampage, the Indians scored 72 runs off the last four overs. The last over from Imad Wasim went for 23 runs, including three consecutive sixers from Pandya.

Apart from bowling fireworks, Pakistan had also promised new tricks or using Sarfraz’s words out-of-the-box tactics. If there were any, then perhaps they were invisible to the human eye.

Leaving out Junaid Khan to have Wahab Riaz in the playing eleven backfired, badly. Passed as “100 percent fit” by the team’s officials, Wahab proved to be easy prey for the Indians, who hit him at will. His misery ended when Wahab fell down with an injured leg. But by then he had conceded 87 runs off just 8.4 overs.

India’s 319-3 from 48 overs wasn’t unexpected. But Pakistan could definitely have done much better. It all began with openers Dhawan and Sharma putting up 136 off 150 runs. Sharma top-scored with 91 off 119 balls that included seven fours and two sixes and was only undone by an unlucky run-out. Dhawan was more adventurous, belting 68 off 65 before falling to Shadab Khan trying to hit a juicy full toss out of the park.

Kohli hit an unbeaten run-a-ball 81 that included six fours and three sixers. But the man who really lifted the Indian innings was man-of-the-match Yuvraj. Provided with two reprieves at 8 and 38 by butter-fingered Pakistani fielders, he smashed 53 off 32 balls before being trapped leg before by Hassan Ali. Pandya then hammered 20 off six balls to give a perfect finish to the Indian innings.