Birmingham: Title favourites India produced yet another clinical performance as they outplayed arch-rivals Pakistan by eight wickets in a high-voltage group league encounter of the ICC Champions Trophy here on Saturday.
In a match where there were numerous rain-interruptions, Pakistan were bundle out for 165 in 39.4 overs due to a disciplined effort by the Indian bowling unit led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who returned with figures of two for 19.
India’s final revised target courtesy D/L method was 102 in 22 overs which the ‘Men In Blue’ achieved with 17 balls to spare as Shikhar Dhawan again blazed his way to a 41-ball-48. India thus finished group league engagements with an all-win record.
Winning the ‘prestige battle’ against Pakistan will certainly be a big morale-booster for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men as they await their semi-final opponents whom they will take on in the second semi-final in Cardiff on June 20.
The win was also India’s first in the Champions Trophy having lost against the same opponents in the 2004 and 2009 editions of the tournament.
With game frequently delayed by intermittent rain, India never lost sight of the target as the openers Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (18) again gave a solid start adding 58 runs for the opening stand. While Rohit was a bit subdued, there was no stopping Dhawan who repeatedly peppered the off-side field.
In all he hit five boundaries and just when a half-century was there for the taking, the Delhi lad slashed hard at one from Wahab Riaz to be caught at the deep third-man boundary. Virat Kohli (22 no) and Dinesh Karthik (11 no) ensured that there were no hiccups in the chase.
Earlier, fantastic effort from the bowlers enabled India to skittle out arch-rivals Pakistan for a modest 165. Spin twins Ravindra Jadeja (2/30 in 8 overs)and Ravichandran Ashwin (2/35 in 8 overs) kept the Pakistan batsmen on a leash during middle overs after brilliant opening spell by Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/19 in 8 overs), who again produced the goods upfront.
While Asad Shafiq (41) was the top-scorer for Pakistan, a lot of their batsmen got starts but were unable to convert into substancial score due to some impressive bowling by the quartet of Jadeja, Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar and Ishant Sharma (2/40). The bowlers produced wickets at regular intervals as Pakistan’s woeful show with the bat continued.
The top-order again saw a familiar collapse. Nasir Jamshed, who has scored all his three ODI centuries against India, failed to reproduce his magic this time. The left-handed opener was circumspect and enjoyed a ‘life’ when on 1. Ruled out leg before by umpire Richard Kettleborough, the batsman was saved by the DRS but his innings was cut short by a beauty from Bhuvneshwar.
Bhuvneshwar got the ball to swing both ways and found the edge of Jamshed’s tentative prod which saw Suresh Raina complete an easy catch at second slip. Jamshed scored just 2 runs off nine balls. Kamran Akmal and Mohammed Hafeez consolidated the innings but a steady downpour send the players back in the pavilion.
The 46-run second wicket stand was over immediately after resumption. Hafeez paid offered a loose stroke to an innocuous Kumar delivery to edge to a diving Dhoni. Hafeez was out for a 31-ball 27 that was laced with five fours, two of them off successive Umesh Yadav deliveries.
Spin was introduced in the 14th over through Ravichandran Ashwin. With rain threat looming large, Dhoni wanted to complete the overs quickly. After looking good for his 21 that contained couple of well-timed boundaries, Akmal, promoted to open the innings in place of an out-of-form Imran Farhat, lost his cool and threw his wicket away.
Akmal went for a big drive against the turn and the inside edge flew to Virat Kohli at leg slips off Dhoni’s pads. Pakistan lost wickets in a hurry after the second rain beak. The match was reduced to 40-over-a-side and Pakistan lost three wickets in 15 balls and added just nine runs.
Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq was the first to go, bowled by an arm-ball from Ravichandran Jadeja. He made 22 off 33 balls, but with Asad Shafiq produced 54 runs for the fourth wicket, Pakistan’s best of the day.
India got rid of Shafiq, thanks to the DRS, a technology that the BCCI hates. The umpire turned down a caught behind appeal after Dhoni held on to a faint nick on the leg side. The Indians appealed for a review and the ‘Hotspot’ revealed a fine inside edge. It gave Ishant Sharma the first of his two wickets in the match.
Shoaib Malik lost his review after he was given out LBW to a ball that hit him plumb in front of the middle-stump. Malik played across the line to a straight ball that hurried off the wicket after scoring 17 good runs but lost his composure under pressure.
But for a gutsy 27 not out off 26 balls from Umar Amin, the Pakistan tail refused to wag. A combination of good fielding and tight bowling snuffed out any lusty hitting in the death overs as unbeaten India eyed their third straight win in group B.