India got their Champions Trophy campaign off to a perfect start with an emphatic 124-run win over Pakistan in Birmingham today. Rohit Sharma (91) and Virat Kohli (81*) helped India get past 300 before Hardik Pandya and R Jadeja claimed two wickets apiece to start the title defence on a good note.
Brief Scores: India 319/3 (Rohit Sharma 91, Virat Kohli 81*; Shadab Khan 1/52, Hasan Ali 1/70) beat Pakistan 164/9 (Azhar Ali 50, Mohammad Hafeez 33; Ravindra Jadeja 2/43, Umesh Yadav 3/30) by 124 runs (D/L).
Amidst all the fanfare and predictions of rain, Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to field first with the sun shining down on the Edgbaston field. But, however, Virat Kohli, who left out Mohammad Shami and R Ashwin, was not too fussed with the toss since the wicket looked like it would be playable for the entire match.
Dhawan and Rohit put India in complete control
Mohammad Amir tested Rohit Sharma with a superb first over before Sarfraz made the surprising choice of handing the new ball to spinner Imad Wasim in the next. Sharma, who could manage just two runs in the first two Amir overs, smashed the pacer for two boundaries in the following two to get the Indian innings well and truly started. Just as the defending Champions started building momentum, the predicted rains arrived and the game had to be stopped for almost 40 minutes. After the mini-break, India, again, started tentatively finishing the first 10 overs with 46 runs on the board. The openers dealt mostly in singles before unleashing all their venom on Wahab Riaz in the 16th. By the 20th over, that yielded 15 runs, India had reached a good total of 110/0. With wickets scarce and Shikhar Dhawan in sublime touch, things were looking bleak for Pakistan but being overconfident, the left-hander hit Shadab Khan when the ball was still wet, only to find Azhar Ali at deep midwicket, scoring 68. However, at the midway point, India would have been happy with the scoreboard reading 138/1.
Classic Kohli and explosive Yuvraj take India past 300
Following the wicket, India slowed down a little scoring just one boundary over the next eight overs that yielded just 35 runs before the rains decided to make another appearance. This time around the delay was for almost an hour and when the teams came out again, two overs had been shaved from the allotted ones. Riaz was having a day to forget as he was smashed for 10 runs in two balls as Rohit edged closer to a maiden century against Pakistan. However, it wasn’t to be as the flamboyant opener was dismissed nine runs short of the milestone after he failed to ground his bat. With 10 overs to go, India found themselves at 202/2 and it was vintage Yuvraj Singh, who showed his masterclass. After the hard-hitting batsman was dropped by Hasan Ali, he made the “team in green” pay, with some extreme power hitting, Yuvraj brought up his half-century off just 29 balls. After his dismissal, LBW by Hasan Ali, Kohli, who brought up his half century as well, tore through Ali scoring 11 runs off the penultimate over. While most fans would have wanted Hardik Pandya to give the strike to Kohli in the last over, the Baroda man hit Imad Wasim for three consecutive sixes to ensure India ended their innings at 319/3 and given Pakistan’s bad record in chasing, it was always going to be a par total.
Pakistan top order crumbles under pressure
Starting their chase, all the odds were against Pakistan, who had only successfully chased scores more than 250 outside Asia just once in eight attempts since 2013. As such Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad started slowly - not risking too many shots, perhaps keeping in mind to attain the minimum D/L par score without losing any wicket. In the fifth over, the rain paid Edgbaston another visit and this time the target had to be revised to 289 in 41 overs. After the delay, the Pakistan batsmen looked comfortable as they started playing their shots but Bhuvneshwar got India back on track by trapping Shehzad plumb in front of his stumps. Needing to chase at over seven runs an over, Pakistan could only manage 55/1 at the end of the 10 overs. Babar Azam decided to take on Yadav and hit the pacer for a boundary behind point but on the very next ball, while recreating the shot, he found the palms of Jadeja. The wicket shifted the momentum in India’s favour and Pakistan
Jadeja and Pandya secure comprehensive victory for India
The incoming Shoaib Malik tried to up the run rate with a few boundaries but a