2019 Cricket World Cup: India hammer rivals Pakistan to remain unbeaten
Photo: Getty Images

2019 Cricket World Cup: India hammer rivals Pakistan to remain unbeaten

Rohit Sharma propelled India to victory with a flamboyant innings of 140 in a rain-effected contest.

chris-lincoln
Chris Lincoln

The border between India and Pakistan is nothing more than a line in the sand within some areas.

Yet the separation between the two countries has a complex history, drowning with extensive historical and political tensions.

These two countries have their differences but one aspect of life brings them together. Cricket.

Old Trafford could have sold out a dozen times over. Only the lucky ones were successful in the ballot but they made a rich noise within a sea of green and blue. Waves of emotion that mixed together as rival fans stood shoulder-to-shoulder.

A classic in store?

Lose the World Cup but don't lose to India or Pakistan. That was the message from the opposing sets of fans. A contest that simply could not end in defeat for either side.

India are one of the favourites to lift the World Cup trophy but Pakistan have been seen in many quarters as a possible outside shot. An unpredictable side that have beaten England but were dismantled by West Indies for barely 100.

This had the potential mix of a classic. In the end, it was a disappointing anti-climax.

Sharma sets a foundation

To give yourself a chance against India, you have to take early wickets. The top order can be destructive, underpinned by Rohit Sharma's 50 in just 34 balls. 

At the other end, KL Rahul was simply staying with his flamboyant partner, proving a trusty opening partner in the absence of Shikhar Dhawan. Yet Rahul was to bring up his 50 in style, pulling a six over mid-wicket as Pakistan looked short of answers.

By the time the underdogs forced a breakthrough, India looked well on their way to 300. Rahul chipped Wahab Riaz straight to cover but his side had already made 136 an over short of the halfway stage.

If anything, that wicket only helped to propel India's score further towards an insurmountable advantage as Virat Kohli quickly got to grips with the pace. Providing adequate support to his partner, Sharma brought up his century from just 85 balls.

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Kohli creates history

By the time Pakistan dismissed Sharma, who played a tired looking scoop shot straight to short fine leg, the opener had scored 140 of India's 234 runs from 38 overs. At around a run a ball, it was the perfect platform for an Indian onslaught.

Hardik Pandya made 26 off 19 before being dismissed playing the MS Dhoni helicopter shot. In the meantime, Kohli brought up his 50 before becoming the fastest man to 11,000 ODI runs.

Dhoni was dismissed on just his second ball and Pakistan thought they had taken the scalp of Kohli with with 20 balls of the innings remaining. Yet the Indian captain successfully reviewed as the players trudged off the pitch under the dark clouds.

Although Kohli eventually became the third scalp for Mohammad Amir after the restart, following a dominant 77 from 65 balls, India did not let the rain disruption put them off their stride. They were to rack up another 31 runs from the final 20 balls to finish on 336-5.

Pakistan build before disastrous collapse

Showers delayed the restart but India were soon left with a headache of their own as Bhuvneshwar Kumar limped off with a hamstring injury in just the fifth over. Vijay Shankhar was thrown the ball to finish the over and took a wicket instantly, trapping Imam ul-Haq LBW with his first ball of World Cup cricket.

Yet Pakistan recovered through a century stand between Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam. The pair took their nation to 117-1 by the 24th over, just short of where India were at a similar stage. 

However, it was the spin of Kuldeep Yadav that spiralled Pakistan into turmoil. After bowling Babar two runs short of his 50 with a delightful delivery, he took the edge of Fakhar for 62 just two over later. It was the first half of 18 balls that saw four dismissals, including two in two for Pandya.

Finish with a drizzle

When Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed fell for 12 at 165-6, the contest looked all but over and a downpour just minutes later only served to dampen the Pakistan spirits further. 

Almost 100 runs short of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern par score, Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan returned to the crease with a mammoth 136 required from just 30 balls as the Pakistan innings was reduced to 40 overs.

Yet the Pakistan lower order were not prepared to give it a go and at least entertain the suffering fans who had stayed behind to see the climax of the game. As India bowled a series of loose deliveries, Wasim and Shadab simply turned the ball around the pitch in a dire end to what should have been a thrilling climax.

India were to win by 89 runs as they climbed to third in a top four that looks almost stonewall for the semi-finals. As for Pakistan, their tournament looks all but over.

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