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India v Pakistan, Old Trafford, ICC CWC 2019 : Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta
India v Pakistan at Old Trafford: ICC CWC 2019 : Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta
During a pre-match press conference, Pakistan Coach Mickey Arthur had challenged his players to “Do something incredible and be remembered forever. You could become heroes.” However, at Old Trafford, none of the Pakistan players were able to meaningfully capitalize on the game between India and Pakistan. In fact, it was India’s team that overwhelmingly took care of this opportunity to maintain their blemish free record which now stands at 7-0 in World Cup matches.
A few minor hiccups for the opening pair of K.L. Rahul and Rohit Sharma were successfully negotiated against Pakistan speedsters Muhammad Amir and Hassan Ali. Pakistan fielding did not rise to the occasion when they were unable to get two possible runout chances. Pakistan should have run out Rohit Sharma when he was on 32 of his 140 when Fakhar Zaman mistakenly threw to the non-striker’s end. Subsequently, both Rohit Sharma and K L Rahul settled down and recorded a century partnership. This was the start India needed and they put on 136 for the first wicket. After winning the toss, Pakistan paid more attention to the possibility of an evolving Duckworth Lewis scenario given the inclement weather in Manchester and unfortunately for them, it did not help them as India piled on 336 in their 50 overs, although the final score could easily have been 20-30 runs more. Subsequently, in a press conference, skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed had to defend his decision to field first in this contest. Pakistan had previously lost all six of the World Cup matches against India and five of them when batting second. Mohammad Amir was the pick of the bowlers bagging three wickets in the late overs conceding only 47 runs from his 10-over spell to end up with 3 wickets. Rohit Sharma played some delectable strokes during his 24thODI century (140 off 113 balls) and his second of this ICC CWC 2019. India captain, Virat Kohli, was dismissed in a somewhat bizarre manner when he walked despite not hitting the ball that he attempted a hook and was caught behind the wicket. He was understandably furious when he realized that blunder. Nevertheless, his contribution of 77 runs was invaluable in building a second wicket partnership with Rohit Sharma. In the process, Kohli became the fastest to reach 11,000 runs in ODI. He is ninth in the all-time list and took 54 lesser number of innings to reach this milestone compared to Sachin Tendulkar. Now, that is a phenomenal feat that further marks a stamp on his greatness.
For Pakistan to win this match, they would have been required to chase down a new tournament record for a successful chase. Due to intermittent breaks in the game due to rain, target was curtailed to 302 in 40 overs. Initially, there was a ray of hope for Pakistan as Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam put together a century stand. At this moment, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar cashed in claiming two wickets each reducing Pakistan to merely go through the formalities of finishing the game. A moment of renewed self-confidence for Kuldeep Yadav came when he tossed the final delivery of his sixth over just a bit higher. This allowed the ball to drift across Babar Azam and foxed him between the bat and pad to disturb the off bail. At this moment, his celebration almost seemed a cathartic phenomenon. Kohli also praised his contributions following India’s victory over Pakistan
Shankar’s first delivery of the World Cup beat the bat of Imam-ul-Haq and trapped him leg before wicket. In a rain curtailed event at Old Trafford, Pakistan could only muster 212 off 40 overs thus comprehensively losing to India by 89 runs.
This is Pakistan’s third defeat and that certainly leaves a major doubt whether they will end up in the final four. Pakistan will recall that in 1992 they had a superb comeback after a dismal start of Imran Khan led team. They find themselves in a similar situation 27 years later and will have to leave it to their ace bowler Mohammad Amir, their unpredictable batting and will most certainly need to elevate their fielding performances.
With over 500,000 requests for tickets, Old Trafford was filled to capacity with only the lucky 25000 spectators being able to enjoy this match. Nearly 80% of them were Indian supporters waving their flags, playing their horns, having their faces painted with India’s flag and above all the vocal support with constant chants reverberating all throughout the game. Atmosphere for any India game is always electric, however, it seemed that it was a notch higher for this special India Pakistan match. Other than the annoying breaks due to weather, crowd was thoroughly into the game enjoying every moment of it.
India has completed four games now in this tournament and they are placed comfortably in the top four of the table and with some of the games against weaker oppositions, they certainly have made an emphatic statement confirming their tag as one of the favorites. Thumb injury to Shikhar Dhawan and hamstring niggle to Bhuvneshwar Kumar will not keep them away for too long. Next stop Saturday June 22 against Afghanistan in Southampton.