For all the razzmatazz and anticipation an India-Pakistan cricket match generates, the newest instalment was the portrayal of a rather insipid and anti-climactic event. India – both the team and their billion fans – however, will not mind an iota of the one-sidedness of today’s 2023 ICC World Cup match at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, as they are justifiably elated with a seven-wicket triumph.
In a game of contrasting fortunes, Pakistan will be known for being the architects of their own downfall yet again – except this time, it was a collapse of gigantic proportions. Being asked to bat first, they were bowled out for merely 191 runs, despite once looking comfortable at 155/2. The hosts then chased the target down without breaking a sweat, crossing the finish line in only 30.3 overs.
Despite the target not demanding immediate retaliation, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma – who came into this game high on confidence, having scored a record-breaking century in the last match against Afghanistan – chose not to do away with modesty by scoring a boundary in the very first delivery, in a bid to establish his intentions.
In the next over, Shubman Gill’s batting made fans and experts forget that he had recovered from dengue only recently, hitting three boundaries off Hasan Ali’s bowling.
Gill was dismissed in the next over, finding Shadab Khan at backward point whilst trying to cut a Shaheen Afridi delivery, but the usual effect of a partner’s departure was lost on Rohit.
He continued toying with the Pakistani bowlers, as after nine overs, India’s score read 77/1. The cycle was repeated again when his new partner, Virat Kohli was dismissed by Ali in the 10th over, with the 36-year-old bringing up his half-century only four overs later, taking only 36 deliveries to do so.
The onslaught eventually concluded in the 22nd over, when he was outfoxed by Afridi’s off-cutter. Rohit scored 86 runs in 63 deliveries, striking six fours and as many maximums in the process.
Albeit, Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul ensured India bag the two points with no troubles whatsoever. Adding saccharine to the victory was Shreyas Iyer’s half-century, with India’s solitary out-of-form
Collapse of Epic Proportions From Pakistan
Earlier, in complete contrast to what their final score might suggest, Pakistan did not have a poor start with the bat. In fact, the opening pair of Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq was doing reasonably well for the first seven overs, wherein they accumulated 37 runs.
But in the eighth over, a cross-seam delivery from Mohammed Siraj – which has troubled batters aplenty in this competition – trapped Shafique leg before wicket.
Imam extended his innings for five more overs, scoring 36 runs, before edging a Hardik Pandya delivery into the gloves of KL Rahul. At 74/2, the balance was tipped in India’s favour, when Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam decided to do something about it.
The pair was involved in an 82-run third-wicket partnership, as Pakistan first crossed the 100-run mark in the 19th over, and then brought up 150 in the 29th over. As for personal milestones, Babar Azam scored his 29th half-century in ODI cricket.
Bowlers Shine, but Rohit’s Shrewd Captaincy Deserves Applause
At a time when the spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja were proving to be economical, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma recalled Siraj into the attack, in a move that was met with immediate criticism from some of the commentators.
Albeit, it proved to be the right call, as Siraj bowled Babar in the 30th over. At 155/3, and with 20 overs remaining, Pakistan were still in a comfortable position to aim for 300 runs, but little did they know that all hell would soon break loose.
Three overs later, Kuldeep Yadav scalped two wickets in the span of five deliveries – first getting Saud Shakeel out lbw, before Iftikhar Ahmed dragged the ball onto his stumps whilst attempting the sweep.
In another wily bowling change, Jasprit Bumrah was re-introduced, and he bowled a sublime off-cutter who ran through Rizwan’s defence in the very next over, effectively paralysing Pakistan’s innings.
The likes of Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz were never expected to single-handedly turn the tides, but to make matters worse for Pakistan, they could not halt the incessant fall of wickets either.
Shadab scored two runs before being bowled by Bumrah, while after scoring four runs, Nawaz lost his wicket to Pandya. Pakistan’s last three batters – Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf – could only score a combined 16 runs, as they were bowled out for 191 runs.