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BIRMINGHAM: Title favourites India overcame devious English weather to wallop old foes Pakistan by eight wickets in yet another drizzle-sodden, and perchance inconsequential, Champions Trophy match on Saturday night.
India thus kept intact their spotless league record, rattling up three wins in as many games, and are on a confidence boost going into the knock out stages of what is the last edition of the tournament.
It mattered very little to the local Asian diaspora that MS Dhoni's side were already in the semis, and Misbah ul Haq's out of contention. They turned up in numbers and waited patiently through several rain interruptions and numerous Duckworth-Lewis-assisted reworkings of overs and targets.
They were rewarded not with the famed sub-continental needle, but with what was expected of the encounter: India’s overall strength proving too strong for the might of Pakistan’s unreal bowling attack, which has often failed to transcend the sludge of its batting mire.
India, for their part, were in full flow, first shooting out Pakistan to 165 all out in 39.4 of the rain-permitted 40 overs, and gunning down the perpetually modified target without so much as a rivulet of figurative sweat trickling down an equally figurative forehead – not that there was any chance of that in the prevailing chill of a purported English ‘summer’.
All round show
Pakistan's deflation after Dhoni sent them in was catalyzed equally by swing bowler and Man of the Match Bhuvneshwar Kumar, off-spinner R. Ashwin and left-armer Ravindra Jadeja, who picked up two apiece, and by an electric performance in the field by a young, athletic outfit.
That done, opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan blazed India ahead with a rasping 48, holding his nerve through interruptions and getting out two short of what would have been a deserved half-century. Dhawan and Sharma were earlier eyeing their third consecutive century stand when the latter clipped Mohammad Hafeez to a leaping Misbah at midwicket.
India, then on 63/1 in 11.3, were in pursuit of 157 in 36 overs, but a couple of mild downpours later were left with 39 to get from 10.3 – all very logical and rationale-backed and mathematical, one would assume! There was no trouble from then on, only the matter of how flagrantly Dinesh Karthik and Virat Kohli attained victory: it was done with the cushion of 17 balls remaining.
Aided by a couple of rain disruptions India were earlier superlative in what was ultimately designated to be a 40-over innings. Dhoni had a ringside view of most of the early action since it was confined to behind the wicket.
Bhuvneshwar swung one away from Nasir Jamshed that took the edge on its way to Suresh Raina at second slip.
The first resumption was marked by the termination of Mohammad Hafeez, who, having struck five crisp boundaries, swished distractedly outside off for Dhoni to take a smart low catch and Bhuvneshwar’s second wicket.
Kamran Akmal had not looked especially comfortable out there opening. He was done in on an expansive and unsuccessful off-drive drive against Ashwin’s off-spin, the inside edge that whizzing off Dhoni’s knee to be held by an alert Kohli at slip.
Sir Jadeja soon made his presence felt, darting in an angular, flat delivery onto a shuffling Misbah’s leg stump. Asad Shafiq played Ishant Sharma down the legside to Dhoni and was discovered, to his dismay, to have edged the ball. Shoaib Malik could only grin and review in vain a plumb leg before against Jadeja.
Pakistan, like they did in their previous two matches, caved in, which is not to take anything away from India. Ashwin ripped out Wahab Riaz’s stump, off the glove, with a snarling off-spinner, Virat Kohli collected, tumbled and rattled in a direct hit, Rohit snapped up a low chance.
Young southpaw Umar Amin stood alone at the end with an unbeaten 27, watching his team fail to last the full quota and crumble to 165 in 39.4 overs. It was too little, even for the tournament’s best bowling outfit, especially when up against its strongest batting line up.
Fantasy cricket: Was Sir Ravindra Jadeja gracing your team?
Spotless India thrash Pakistan
MS Dhoni's team make it three in three with big win over old foes.Yahoo! Cricket – Sat 15 Jun, 2013 2:28 PM IST
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