Team India begin #CT17 campaign in style
The stage was set, the weather was pleasant and it was toss time! Pakistan captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, won the toss on a bright day in Edgbaston and decided to bowl first. Virat Kohli, captain of India, was happy with the outcome and said, ‘it is a pretty good wicket, it will stay even throughout’. Mohammed Shami and Ravichandran Ashwin were not included in the final XI. So it meant Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya handling the pace department while Ravindra Jadeja being the lone spinner.
Mohammad Amir started the proceedings for Pakistan with a perfect maiden as Rohit Sharma struggled in the first over. It was a surprise from Sarfraz from the other end, as spinner Imad Wasim shared the second new ball. Indian openers were off to a cautious start as the scoreboard read 15/0 after 5 overs. But runs were quick to come by afterwards as they scored at a run-rate of 5-6. Dhawan and Rohit were timing the ball beautifully as the first rain halt came at 9.5 overs with India being at 46/0.
But after the first rainbreak, the pitch got faster and the ball started coming on the bat quickly. This certainly helped the batsmen as fours were coming quite regularly. The strike rates which were in the range of 50-60, increased to 70-80 in the coming overs. 16th over of the match bowled by Wahab Riaz yielded India 13 runs, the best till then. In a race towards individual 50s, Rohit reached it first with a beautiful six in the mid-wicket region off Shadab Khan. Third ball of the 20th over of the innings brought two milestones as Dhawan brought up his hundred and completed the 100-run partnership.
Dhawan and Rohit carried on with the good work but Shadab gave Pakistan its first breakthrough as the former holed out in the deep after Azhar Ali took a catch without moving an inch. Dhawan ended his innings on 68 off 65 balls. Captain Kohli came next to the crease. He along with Rohit, then steadied the Indian ship with a good partnership. Kohli looked good as he was playing with a strike rate of 90. But rain made its presence felt as the game halted after 33.1 overs, with India being on 173/1.
With a good amount of rain at Edgbaston, the game was reduced to 48 overs. With just 15 overs remaining, the Indian batsmen went hell for leather from the start. Kohli was struggling thereafter but Rohit upped the ante. Rohit made a mistake and got run-out in the 37th over. The batsman failed to keep his bat down while dragging it for a quick run. Sarfraz whipped off the bails and even though, he was in the crease, had to return to the pavilion for 91. Stylish, Yuvraj Singh, came next to the crease. Yuvraj soon after showed his class as his well-timed shots entertained the crowd. Fours and sixes were coming off easily. Kohli, who was struggling to time the ball, found his timing once again, and exploded in the final overs. He completed his fifty in the 45th over and Yuvraj completed it in the next over.
Pakistan finally were able to break the p’ship as Hasan Ali removed the dangerous Yuvraj, he made 53 off 49 balls. Hardik Pandya was promoted ahead of Dhoni and Kedar and the move worked wonders as Hardik hit 3 sixes off last over of the innings. Kohli finished the innings with a four as India managed 319/3 in 48 overs. Pakistan’s new target was 324 in the same number of overs.
With a stiff target of 324 to chase, the Pakistan opening pair of Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad made their way to the middle. Indian bowlers were on the spot as Bhuvneshwar Kumar swung the ball while Umesh Yadav was fast and accurate. Pakistan were off to a stable start but then rain interrupted the play as the scoreboard read 22/0 after 4.5 overs. Due to the rain, the target was revised to 289 in 41 overs.
With the revised target, Pakistan openers were cautious after the break. Kohli operated pacers and it paid dividends as Bhuvneswar removed Ahmed Shehzad for 12. Pakistan needed a partnership to settle their nerves but could not succeed as Umesh Yadav removed Babar Azam for 8. Pakistan were 61-2 after 12.2 overs. Ali was going strong from one end though and now had Mohammad Hafeez with him. The former reached to his fifty in the 21st over but was soon removed from Jadeja. Ali top-edged one to deep square leg and Hardik made no mistake.
Shoaib Malik was next - Pakistan’s most experienced pair was at the crease. India needed to break this partnership to gain a psychological advantage. Both Hafeez and Malik, looked confident as the sun beat down in Edgbaston. But the 23-run stand was broken by some brilliant fielding from Jadeja. He was fast and accurate as he hit the stumps on the go. Malik was caught short and ended his good looking innings of 15. In came captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, with a difficult job ahead.
Kohli was intelligent with his changes and got the desired results. Next to go was the well-settled Hafeez. Jadeja got his second wicket of the day as this time, Bhuvneshwar took the catch in the deep. Pakistan went into further trouble as Imad Wasim went for a duck. It seemed all difficult for Pakistan now and Sarfraz was the next one to return to the pavilion. The scoreboard read 151/7 after 29.3 overs. The downslide continued for Pakistan as Umesh picked up two wickets in the same over and the match ended with Wahab Riaz not coming to bat, due to an injury sustained while bowling. India won the match by 124runs (DLS method) and extended their good run against Pakistan in ICC tournaments.
Yuvraj Singh got the Man of the Match award for his 53 off 32 balls, which gave the momentum for posting a winning total.