Sharma shines in India’s big win over Pakistan
Rohit rises to the occasion with 140 in rain-affected 89-run success at Old Trafford.
Rohit Sharma’s sparkling 140 from 113 balls helped India maintain their stranglehold over Pakistan in the World Cup in front of a global television audience of around one billion viewers.
One day after Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur challenged his players to “do something incredible (and) be remembered forever”, it was Rohit who rose to the occasion in a highly-charged environment at a packed out Old Trafford.
The opener’s century, containing 14 fours and three sixes, plus fifties from KL Rahul and Virat Kohli instigated an 89-run rain-affected victory, India’s seventh win in seven World Cup matches against their arch rivals.
Pakistan had squandered two opportunities to run out Rohit early into his innings but the in-form right-hander was not so generous as he underpinned India’s 336 for five – the highest one-day international total at this ground.
Pakistan therefore needed to set a new tournament record for a successful chase, an assignment that was beyond them long before rain intervened and brought down the target to 302 in 40 overs as they finished on 212 for six.
Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam had given Pakistan a flicker of hope with a century stand but a mini-collapse halted them in their tracks, with Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya and part-timer Vijay Shankar claiming two wickets apiece.
The majority of those inside the ground went home happy as India extended their unbeaten start in England and Wales for a third win in four but Pakistan’s third defeat leaves them a major doubt to progress to the knockout stages.
The seeds of their latest loss were sown when, after inviting India to bat first in overcast conditions, Rohit was twice reprieved in his 30s after he and KL Rahul had made a steady if unspectacular start.
Fakhar inexplicably threw to the wrong end when Rohit was stranded down the pitch coming back for a second run while Shadab Khan missed the stumps with his pick up and release with the batsman short of his ground minutes later.
To compound Shadab’s misfortune, Rohit dispatched a full toss from the leg-spinner for six before cutting him for four to move to a 34-ball half-century, as he and Rahul laid the foundations for a large total with a 136-run partnership.
Rahul’s dismissal for 57 brought Kohli to the crease to a predictable cacophony of noise but the India captain was content to defer to Rohit, with the pair’s efficiency between the wickets frustrating Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed.
He routinely rotated his bowlers who – with the notable exception of Mohammad Amir, twice warned for encroaching on the pitch, as was Wahab Riaz – lacked penetration.
Rohit uppercut the expensive Hasan Ali for six to move into the 90s before bringing up an 85-ball ton, his second of the tournament, and seemingly in an ideal position to go on and register his fourth ODI double century.
His scoop off Hasan found the grateful hands of Wahab at short fine leg although Kohli then took centre stage, becoming the quickest batsman to 11,000 ODI runs en route to yet another fifty-plus score.
Three figures beckoned but he departed following a rain delay for 77 off just 65 balls, walking despite replays showing he made no contact to a bouncer from Amir, who had earlier removed Pandya and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Nevertheless, India were undoubtedly in the ascendancy at the halfway stage and even the loss of key seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar to a tight hamstring four balls into his third over failed to halt their seemingly inevitable march to victory as Shankar pinned Imam-ul-Haq in front with his first delivery in the tournament.
Fakhar and Babar, two key members of Pakistan’s line-up, threatened to disrupt proceedings as they first rebuilt and then started to catch up with the required run-rate.
But Kuldeep ended a 104-run union with a beautiful delivery that spun through the gap between bat and pad to castle Babar for 48, while Fakhar – on 62 – top-edged a sweep off the left-arm wrist-spinner before Pandya took two wickets in as many balls.
Pakistan had therefore lurched from 117 for one to 129 for five, ending their prospects of a memorable chase, with a further rain delay merely delaying the inevitable.