"Delivering in a big game, lucky, got dropped, but capitalised in the end."
India held their nerves as they convincingly defeated Pakistan by 124 runs courtesy of the (Duckworth/Lewis method) in the rain affected Group B cricket match of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.
Promising to be a thrilling encounter in Birmingham on June 4th, the game ended yet again as a one sided affair.
It was a good surface to bat on at Edgbaston. But Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed took a risk by deciding to field first after winning the toss.
Pakistan left out all-rounder Fahim Ashraf at the expense of Shadab Khan who made it into the final playing XI.
The big news from the Indian camp was that Mohammad Shami and Ravichandran Ashwin did not make the final cut.
A huge crowd came to witness this game at the home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club. Approximately 24,156 spectators were in attendance — the highest ever for a one-day international game at Edgbaston.
Celebrities such as Sachin Tendulkar and Ranvir Singh were also present inside the stadium.
Kumar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka and Marais Erasmus from South Africa were the two umpires officiating the game.
A minutes silence was observed as a mark of respect for the London tragedy, before the customary national anthems of both sides.
Pakistan were very sloppy early on in the field. At 9.5 overs, the players had to leave the field with rain pouring down heavily. The break came at the right time for the Men in Green as India made a good start, with 46 on the scoreboard with the loss of no wickets.
Following resumption of play, Rohit Sharma hit a terrific six off Shadab to bring up his 50 from seventy-two balls.
Shikhar Dhawan then hit 3 consecutive sixes off Wahab Riaz, before taking two runs on a misfield to complete his half century.
Dhawan was out for 68 after hitting a full tosser straight to Azhar Ali at deep midwicket off Shadab.
Following another rain break during the 34th over, the match was reduced to forty-eight overs a side.
Good fielding from Babar Azam saw the dismissal of Sharma for a brilliant 91. He hit some fantastic pre-meditated shots in his innings.
Yuvraj Singh came into join Virat Kohli at the crease. The turning point of the match was when both Singh and Kohli were dropped by Pakistan fielders when on nine and forty-four respectively.
Making the most of Pakistan’s shoddy fielding, Yuvraj brought up his fifty off 29 balls. After a review from Pakistan, Singh (53) was eventually out, given plumb lbw off Hasan Ali by TV umpire Richard Kettleborough.
Kohli took advantage of his reprieve with some majestic shots to all parts of the ground. His fluidity came back and strike rate increased along the way.
To add further misery for the Green Shirts, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz had to go off the field with injuries and could not bowl any further in the match.
Hardik Pandya smashed three successive sixes in the final over off Imad Wasim. Virat hit a boundary off the final ball as India reached a mammoth total of 319-3.
It was sixes singing in the rain, with Wasim’s final over costing 23 runs. Wahab Riaz was very expensive, conceding 87 runs off his 8.4 overs. This is a record in the history of the Champion Trophy.
Kohli remained unbeaten on 81 and Pandya was not out on 20 off just six balls. During the interval, speaking to the media, a positive Yuvraj said:
“Delivering in a big game, lucky, got dropped, but capitalised in the end. The partnership between Rohit and Shikhar allowed us to bat deep.
“I think it’s a very good batting wicket. Because of the rain interruptions, you have to give yourself time. Hopefully we can get some wickets with the new ball.”
Needing 324 runs, Pakistan got off to a relatively good start with openers Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad.
But then came yet another rain interruption. Following resume of play, Pakistan had a more realistic revised target of 289 off 41 overs.
However it was same old story for Pakistan as they could not rotate the strike leading to their own downfall.
Shehzad was out lbw for 12 off Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Babar Azam (8) was next to go as he gave a dolly of a catch to Ravindra Jadeja off Umesh Yadav.
Azhar was crucially out from a top edge, caught at deep square leg by Pandya off Jadeja after constructing 50 off sixty-five balls.
Shoaib Malik was looking in good nick, but he too could not convert his good start into a long innings as Pakistan were struggling on 114-4. He was run out for 15 by a fantastic rocket throw from Jadeja fielding in the backward point region.
The dismissal of Mohammad Hafeez (33) caught by Kumar off Jadeja was like the writing on the wall. Wasim (0), Sarfaraz (15), Amir (9) and Hasan (0) all fell cheaply as Pakistan lost their last four wickets for 33 runs.
With the injured Riaz not able to bat, Pakistan were all out for a mediocre 164. India convincingly won the match by 124 runs under the D/L method.
Yadav was pick of the Indian bowlers, taking 3-30. The 93 runs partnership between Virat and Yuvraj was definitely the game changer, along with Pakistan’s lacklustre batting.
Talking at the end of the match, a happy Kohli said: “Quite delighted with all batsmen chipping in with runs. Rohit took some time going, but he’s coming back from an injury, and international cricket is different to IPL.
“I felt like a club batsman while playing alongside Yuvi, the way he was hitting the ball. And Hardik, 18 off five balls, was outstanding.”
Sarfaraz commented on where they lost the match saying: “Everything was under control after 40 overs, but we lost the plot in the last eight.
“Credit to India’s batsmen. They scored 124 in those last eight, and the momentum went to India. I think we need to stick together and control our bowling rate, especially last few overs.”
Even though there were a number of candidates, Yuvraj Singh was declared player of the match for his wonderful innings. India will be extremely happy with their performance overall.
Pakistan on the other hand have a lot of soul searching to do and will need to consider bringing Fakhar Zaman, Fahim Ashraf and Junaid Khan into the team.
Pakistan has to regroup ahead of their next do or die match against South Africa at the same ground on 07 June 2017.