Rohit Sharma helps India beat Pakistan in ICC WC19

Rohit Sharma helps India beat Pakistan in ICC WC19

LONDON — In front of a raucous sold-out crowd in Manchester, 24th ODI hundred of Rohit Sharma was full of poise, exquisite timing, and destructive hitting as he pummeled 14 fours and three sixes in his 140 off 113 balls.

The opener shared a record opening stand in a World Cup for India against Pakistan of 136 with KL Rahul (57) and put on 98 with Virat Kohli (77), who became the fastest player to reach 11,000 ODI runs during his innings.

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Set a daunting 337 for victory, Pakistan lost opener Imam-ul-Haq (7) to the first-ever ball Vijay Shankar bowled in a World Cup but rebounded well as Fakhar Zaman (62) and Babar Azam (48) shared a 104-run second-wicket stand.

However, wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav dismissed the set pair in consecutive overs before Hardik Pandya removed Mohammad Hafeez (9) and Shoaib Malik (0) off successive deliveries as Pakistan slipped from 117-1 to 129-5.

Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (12) was unable to drag his side back into the match, bowled by Shankar before the rain returned. And left an unrealistic 136 off five overs when they made their way back on to the pitch, Pakistan eventually closed on 212-6 from 40 overs, well short of their DLS target.

You could be forgiven for thinking the match was taking place at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai or the National Stadium in Karachi such was the noise and frenzy in Manchester on Sunday morning in the build-up to the game.

After overnight rain, Sarfaraz opted to bowl first as leg spinners Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim returned to the line-up while Rahul was promoted to the top of India’s order with Shankar coming in for the injured Shikhar Dhawan.

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The early running between Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul was indecisive and Fakhar was guilty of throwing to the wrong end with Sharma stranded having looked to go for a second that was not available, leaving Sarfaraz livid at the missed opportunity.

Sharma made the most of his second life, smacking Shadab for a 91-meter six before driving the spinner away to the point boundary next ball as he brought up a 34-ball fifty.

Rahul reached his half-century in an equally impressive method, dismissing a long hop from Shoaib Malik over the midwicket boundary for six but he was caught at cover two overs later as Pakistan finally broke the first-wicket stand.

The loss of the wicket did little to slow India’s progress, with Kohli building his innings around picking up quick twos allowing Rohit Sharma’s free-wheeling striking to propel him an 85-ball century.

Just as Rohit Sharma looked to be heading towards a fourth ODI double hundred he scooped Hasan Ali straight to Wahab Riaz to bring an end to an exceptional innings.

Amir then took center stage, picking up the wickets of Pandya (26) and MS Dhoni (1) in successive overs before a brief rain shower brought the players off the field with 3.2 overs left in India’s innings.

After a 34-minute break, the players returned and Kohli fell in odd circumstance – given out caught behind off Amir – and the Indian captain walked off despite replays following his dismissal showing a gap between the ball and the edge of the bat as his side finished with an impressive 336-5.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled just 2.4 overs before he was forced off the field with a stiff hamstring but India’s misfortune was short-lived as Shankar, who was called on to bowl the final two balls of the sixth over, trapped opener Imam lbw.

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Though Fakhar and Babar’s rebuilding of Pakistan’s innings was slow, it proved fruitful and India missed the opportunity to pick up a second wicket when they failed to review an lbw shout against the latter off Yuzvendra Chahal – with replays showing the ball from the spinner would have hit the stumps.

It began to become a costly error as the Pakistan pair found the middle of the bat more easily but Kuldeep turned the match on its head with an exceptional delivery – the leg spinner tossed the ball up, drifted it away from Babar before it spun back in sharply to bowl the batsman through the gap between bat and pad.

And, in his next over, leg-spinner Kuldeep removed Fakhar as the opener top-edged a sweep to Chahal at cover and Pandya’s double-strike in the next over, which included bowling Shoaib for a golden duck, swung the match firmly in India’s favour.

Sarfaraz dug deep but after edging to 12, his leg stump was splattered by the returning Shankar, as India’s dominance with bat and ball told.

Another rain delayed then saw a revised target leave Pakistan needing 302 from 40 overs and although Imad (46no) and Shadab (20no) enjoyed their brief spells at the crease, a win for India was the only outcome expected.

The victory moved India up to third in the table, level on seven points with New Zealand having played four matches, while Pakistan’s third defeat in five games sees them remain in ninth.

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