Manchester: India’s captain and vice-captain ran the show in their much-awaited World Cup clash against Pakistan here on Sunday. While Rohit Sharma smashed a masterful 140 off 113 balls (4×14, 6×3), skipper Virat Kohli hit a 65-ball 77 (4×7) as India scored 336/5 in the allotted 50 overs.
Put into bat by Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, K.L. Rahul walked out with Rohit to open the innings for India. Rahul quelled any doubts as to whether he can fill injured Shikhar Dhawan’s shoes at the top of the order by holding up one end as he and Rohit gave India a perfect start.
The openers put up 136 runs with Rohit doing the bulk of the scoring. Both players crossed their half-centuries and it was the fourth instance of an Indian pair recording a century stand against Pakistan in a World Cup.
Pakistan finally got the breakthrough in the form of Rahul. Bowling the 24th over, Wahab Riaz changed his angle to round the wicket after he got a warning from umpire Marais Erasmis for running into the protected area of the pitch in his follow through. He sent in a full delivery and Rahul was early to his drive. He ended up hitting it straight to Babar Azam at cover after having made 57 off 78 deliveries (4×3, 6×2).
But Pakistan were never let off the hook throughout the Indian innings. Kohli replaced Rahul and played second fiddle as Rohit continued the onslaught. The pair also put pressure on the Pakistan fielders with swift running between the wickets and soon Rohit notched up his 23rd ODI century.
Rohit raced to the three-figure mark in just 85 balls after which he uppped the ante. The pair continued to pick singles and doubles as Rohit attacked spinners Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan.
The Indian vice-captain’s dismissal, however, came completely against the run of play with Rohit looking set to cross 150 and even get to a fourth ODI double hundred. In the 39th over, Rohit looked to scoop Hasan Ali over short fine leg, only to find Wahab Riaz placed at that paricular position. The dismissal ended a 98-run second wicket stand between Rohit and Kohli.
Pakistan picked up wickets more frequently after that but could not manage to dismiss Kohli. The Indian captain soldiered on and soon crossed 11,000 ODI runs, becoming the fastest to reach the milestone.
Hardik Pandya came in at number four and tried to accelerate the Indian innings. He was successful to a certain extent, putting up 51 runs with Kohli before falling to Mohammad Amir by holing out at long-on for 26 (24 balls; 4×2, 6×1).
Amir then dismissed Mahendra Singh Dhoni for just one in the 46th over as Vijay Shankar, playing in place of the injured Shikhar Dhawan, joined Kohli in the middle. Shankar was given out off Wahab after seemingly edging one to the wicketkeeper, but he successfully reviewed the decision.
There was a temporary halt in the proceedings after that with the rain coming down, as was the forecast on the eve of the match. But the rains did not last long and the teams were back in the middle without any over being deducted.
After resumption in the 48th over, Amir banged one short as Kohli looked to pull the delivery. He only got what looked like a faint edge and Sarfraz made no mistake behind the stumps. Interestingly, it was Kohli who walked while the umpire never raised his finger. Replays indicated there was gap between bat and ball.
After the skipper’s dismissal, Shankar and Kedar Jadhav added 22 runs to take India to 336/5 at the end of 50 overs.
Brief scores: India: 336/5 in 50 overs (Rohit Sharma 140, Virat Kohli 77; Mohammad Amir 3/47) against Pakistan.