Indian bowlers shine as Pakistan faced a jaw dropping collapse in the 14th match of CW23
Ahmedabad was expecting another Rohit hundred, but they would be disappointed in that regard while the Indian skipper dropped one to midwicket thanks to Afridi’s, leaving him 14 runs short, but Pakistan’s chances of winning were over as KL Rahul and Iyer cruised to victory, the latter adding the winning straight drive for four to his undefeated half-century.
India had won the toss and decided to bowl instead of forcing Pakistan to chase, which would have been one of the characteristics of their past ODI World Cup domination over Pakistan.
Only once in their previous seven World Cup games did India win by chasing, but on this sluggish, low pitch, India let Pakistan’s batters figure out the par score.
Early on, Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq batted in a tumultuous situation with amazing composure, negotiating Jasprit Bumrah while dismissing Mohammed Siraj rather easily. And when Shafique was taken out by a low bounce and Imam by a slightly errant shot, Babar and Mohammad Rizwan stepped in and started to right the ship.
It appeared as though Pakistan was acting maturely, leaving emotion out of the game and acknowledging the task at hand would take steel and determination. The bowlers of India, on the other hand, seldom ever allow them out of sight.
A few expensive overs would be followed by a string of tight ones, with the openers being supported by the first-change bowlers and Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja performing their tight-fisted jobs flawlessly.
However, none of it seemed to be affecting Pakistan’s two finest batters much as they made a 50-run partnership and started to take control when their captain reached his first tournament half-century.
At 155 for 2, Pakistan was in a good position, but Ahmedabad was ready to symbolically light the blue. However, as Babar attempted to angle one down to deep third, that diabolical low bounce struck again, knocking back his off stump.
Siraj had also been costly in his second spell. Next ball, Saud Shakeel asked for a run that was never made and was only saved by a bad throw. After 30 overs of calm, Pakistan’s composure started to wane.
And Kuldeep understood exactly how to take advantage of them. Later, he would claim that he was aware of Shakeel’s preference for the sweep shot, he drew his length back and skidded one on, trapping Shakeel in front.
Iftikhar Ahmed received the bad misfortune of having a ball bowled around his legs and onto his stumps during the same over. India had introduced panic into an eerily calm Pakistan, and it would never be the same again.
Rizwan was dismissed by Bumrah, who had somehow gone the entire game without picking up a wicket when he hit him with an unplayable off-cutter just short of his half-century. A faster one, which was also impossible to handle, subsequently broke Shadab’s off stump.
Mohammad Nawaz was defeated by Hardik Pandya, and the leftovers were cleaned up by Ravindra Jadeja. A carnival-like mood quickly took hold as India was about to bat, releasing all the tension that had been building in Ahmedabad.
Rohit Sharma started the attack on Pakistan’s renowned pace unit early and bit chunks out of the low target in the same creamy, sweet form he shown against Afghanistan.
Afridi’s cut flew straight to Shadab at a point before Shubman Gill, who had recently recovered from a bad case of dengue sickness, was equally enterprising. The partnership scored five fours off the first two overs.
It indicated that Virat Kohli and Rohit were working together at the wicket, exactly as they had done during the chase against Afghanistan that resembled a colorful parade. Although Kohli timed the ball reasonably well, Rohit stole the stage.
When Haris Rauf entered the attack, Rohit welcomed him with a massive tonk over mid-on for his 300th ODI six. After reading an attempted slower ball correctly, he would play what may have been the game’s best stroke three balls later: a sliced six over cover.
India was not at all under pressure when Kohli fumbled a throw to mid-on off Hasan Ali. Rohit reached a half-century in 36 balls thanks to Shreyas Iyer’s helpful assistance in the devastating beauty at the other end. The following over, as India surged towards the target, Rohit pulled over square leg Rauf in yet another lavish stroke-playing show.
Ahmedabad was now expecting another Rohit hundred, but they would be disappointed in that regard. The Indian skipper dropped one to midwicket thanks to Afridi’s return, and he died 14 short.
However, Pakistan’s chances of winning were over as KL Rahul and Iyer cruised to victory, the latter adding the winning straight drive for four to his undefeated half-century.
Rohit Sharma, the India Captain:
“The bowlers today as well set the game for us. Restricting them to 190 was a great effort. It was not a 190 pitch. At one stage we were looking at 280 or 290. Whoever gets the ball does the job for the team. We have got six individuals who can do the job. It cannot be everyone’s day every day. The person having a good day has to finish the job. My job as captain has to be important. Whoever is doing the job on the day I have to figure out who is doing the job and go with him. It’s only because the guys entering the World Cup got a lot of runs. The role clarity as well was great. We knew what to do. Entering the WC we didn’t want to see what happened previously. We were very clear about what we wanted to do. The batters got the opportunity and made it count. The bowlers also did their job. Lots of five-fors. [On the team getting together] I will keep my fingers crossed. We don’t want to get too excited and also not get too low as well. It is a long tournament, nine league games, and then the semis and final. Just have to keep the balance and go forward. I have said it before, for us, it was an opposition [Pakistan] we wanted to play. Every opposition we come against they can beat you. We have to be good on that particular day. The past and future do not matter.”
Babar Azam, the Pakistan Captain:
“We started well, good partnership. We just planned to play normal cricket and build partnerships. Suddenly there was a collapse and we could not finish well. Not good for us, the way we started, our target was 280-290 but the collapse cost us. The total was not good. We are not up to the mark with the new ball. The way Rohit played was an outstanding innings. We just tried to take wickets, but that didn’t happen.”
Jasprit Bumrah, the Player of the Match:
“It felt good. You get to analyze the wicket as soon as possible. We knew the wicket was on the slower side so the hard lengths were the way. We were trying to make it as difficult as possible for the batters. Just the awareness helps. When I was young I used to ask a lot of questions, so that has helped me develop a lot of knowledge. I like to read the wickets and try a lot of options. [Rizwan wicket] I saw Jaddu’s ball was turning, so I counted my slower ball as a spinner’s slower ball. I thought that could make the run-scoring tough, and it worked. There was a little phase in there where there was a reverse swing. [Shadab wicket] It was an outswinger I was looking to ball but there were parts of reverse swing happening. I have seen him [Waqar Younis] and Wasim Akram bowl some magical deliveries. So to get his nod is great.”