India hammer shoddy Pakistan at Edgbaston

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A strong all-round display from India gave them an impressive win at Edgbaston, where they hammered Pakistan by 124 runs (D/L method).

India’s top-four all made half-centuries and played equally important innings.

Rohit Sharma (91 off 119 balls) was the top-scorer but the performances by Shikhar Dhawan (68 off 65), Virat Kohli (81* off 68) and Yuvraj Singh (53 off 32) were each equally important in taking the side to a score of 319 for three in 48 overs.

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to field on a drizzly morning in Birmingham.

Sharma and Dhawan showed respect to the lively Pakistani opening bowlers in Mohammad Amir (0-33) and Imad Wasim (0-66) but after the rain delay that came after 10 overs, they began to open their shoulders.

The pair would go on to amass 136 for the first wicket, in under 25 overs, and the platform they had set was not wasted.

Kohli took over from Dhawan, who was out slogging a full toss, and batted superbly with Sharma, who was in fantastic touch and was unlucky not to notch up a hundred.

When Sharma fell in the 37th over India had 192 on the board and were on for a solid score in a match that was reduced to 48 overs.

But Yuvraj wanted more and his 53 off 32 catapulted their total to an impressive score. Those wearing blue in the ground went beserk.

Pakistan’s fielding was shoddy and their bowling erratic. They are a team with such dangerous bowlers but on these flat wickets, strong back-up is required from your fielders to prevent the batting teams from running away to a big score.

Yuvraj was dropped on 8 (a simple chance at long on) and Kohli on 43. Teams simply can ill afford to make these mistakes.

Pakistan started strong in reply and then another rain delay reduced the match to a 41-over affair. Azhar Ali (50 off 65) looked in great touch and notched up a handsome half-century but after Ahmad Shehzad (12) and then Babar Azam (8) fell he seemed to bat within himself.

The asking rate quickly ballooned from seven to eleven per over and Mohammad Hafeez (33 off 43) was the only batsman to put up any further resistance.

Umesh Yadav (3-30), Hardik Pandya (2-43) and Ravindra Jadeja (2-43) wasted little time in bowling them out for a mere 164 in the 34th over.

Pakistan’s batting had about as much structure as their fielding and they might easily have suffered many more than just the one run out.

Wahab Riaz did not bat after he twisted his ankle bowling his ninth over – after conceding 82 runs- amd it must have come of some relief for fans that they would not see him complete his overs.

A crowd close to 25 000, the biggest ever for an ODI at the ground, was particularly boisterous in their support for the momentous occasion of an India versus Pakistan clash.

While the crowd was rowdy it must be emphasised that it was peaceful and that it was heart-warming to see fans associated with the two countries getting along well in the stands and on the impromptu dance floors around the ground.

This seemed all the more poignant in the wake of the terrorist attacks in London over the last month.

These two sides have not played a bi-lateral ODI series since 2012/13 but they seem to always be “randomly” drawn to play each other in ICC events.

Pakistan has not one any one of the last six of those ties.

By Nicholas Sadleir

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