India steamrollered Pakistan by seven wickets in a lopsided blockbuster match at a heaving Narendra Modi Stadium to maintain their unblemished 50-overs World Cup record against their archrivals.
The western Indian city had been in the grip of cricket fever ahead of the tournament’s most anticipated match on Saturday, and India got themselves in the driving seat early by bundling out their opponents for 191 inside 43 overs.
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With Babar Azam (50) and Muhammad Rizwan (49) in the middle, a total of about 300 looked within Pakistan’s reach, only for them to collapse in a heap, failing to last their full 50 overs.
India’s skipper Rohit Sharma led the chase with a blistering 86, and the two-time champions eventually romped home in 30.3 overs to maintain their unbeaten record against Pakistan in the history of the tournament.
They also joined 2019 runners-up New Zealand as the only two teams to win their first three matches in the tournament so far.
Indian fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah was player of the match with figures of 2-19 off nine overs.
Rohit hit the ball to all parts of the ground with his delightful flicks and pulls to entertain an almost all-Indian crowd at the world’s biggest cricket stadium after Pakistanis were effectively banned from attending.
India lost Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli – both for 16 – before Rohit and Shreyas Iyer, who hit the winning four to reach 53, put on 77 runs for the third wicket and placed India comfortably on course for victory.
Rohit fell attempting another hit off Shaheen Shah Afridi to get caught at mid-wicket, but Iyer and KL Rahul took the team home with ease.
Bowlers set up victory after India elected to field and Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja took two wickets each.
Pakistan were bowled out in 42.5 overs, losing eight wickets for 36 runs in 80 balls. They now have two wins and one defeat in the 10-nation tournament.
‘One of those days’
The total was Pakistan’s third lowest against India in the World Cup after their 173 in Sydney (1992) and 180 at Manchester (1999).
Pakistan started strongly but lost their openers before skipper Azam and Rizwan attempted to rebuild and hit back in their stand of 82.
Azam reached his 50 off 57 balls with a boundary but fell in the next over, bowled by Siraj as the crowd roared to see the back of the world’s number-one ODI batsman.
Yadav soon struck twice in an over to send back the left-handed Saud Shakeel and Iftikhar Ahmed, bowled around the legs for four after the ball deflected off the batsman’s gloves.
Bumrah denied Rizwan his 50 with a slower-off cutter that rattled the stumps as Pakistan slipped to 168-6.
Playing in front of his home crowd, Bumrah had a spring in his step and struck again in the next over to get Shadab Khan out for two before Pandya and Jadeja combined to wrap up the tail.
“You try to analyse the wicket as soon as possible so when we started bowling, we came to know that the wicket was on the slower side and a hard length would make run-scoring more difficult,” Bumrah said after the match.
“There was no consistent turn but it was turning a little bit and I count my slower ball as a spinner so I thought it might be an option. I was trying to do that and it gripped – it was one of those days.”
Pakistan captain Babar rued his side’s batting collapse.
“We started well. We had a good partnership [with Rizwan]. We planned to play normal cricket and build a partnership. Suddenly we had a collapse in the middle overs, and we didn’t finish well.
“With the new ball we were not up to the mark. If we were it might have been a different situation. If we took early wickets, we could have won the match.”
The hotly-anticipated match raised enormous interest, with city hotels booked and desperate fans even booking full-body checkups at local hospitals to be sure of a place to sleep.
A prominent hotel in the city usually charges 6,000 rupees ($72) for a deluxe room, but on Friday, Saturday and Sunday the price for a day had been hiked to 70,000 rupees ($841).
Only a trickle of Pakistanis, many expatriates, made it to the game after fans from across the border endured visa delays.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies