India and Pakistan renewed their intense rival as they started their World Cup campaign on Sunday with a win against arch rivals Pakistan . In a match that was reportedly watched by 1 million it’s India who dominated this one, the defeat for Pakistan meant that they still haven’t beat their arch rivals in World Cup cricket.
After winning the toss defending world champions India decided to bat first. When the normally explosive Rohit Sharma fell for just 15, one might have been forgiven for asking if batting first was the right choice. Sharma’s dismissal meant that Virat Kohli was next into bat which is always a very ominous sign for the opposition . The vice captain Kohli who does have a good record against the arch enemy, improved his record here with a brilliant and well composed hundred.
Kohli and Shikar Dawan enabled a India recovery as the second wicket pair out on a stand of 129 which enabled India to rebuild. Shikar Dawan who reigned his attacking instincts for the team was the next wicket to fall via a Misbah Ul Haq run out.
Such is the strength of India’s top order that when a team gets rid one quality a player another quality player follows. The next man in was Suresh Raina, Raina a 28 year old batsmen who is very destructive at his best, was in destructive form here.
As he is known for over the years the Chennai Super Kings player likes to settle into the crease and play his way in, and Raina didn’t change his method here. Pakistan who were using spinners at this stage got that tactic wrong as Suresh Raina is some one who is well known to have a weakness of the short ball.
The unusual tactic by Pakistan captain Misbah- Ul Haq, allowed Suresh Raina to get settled and that lead a typical Suresh Raina like innings. Raina and India’s vice captain put on 110 for the third wicket. The third wicket partnership was broken when Virat Kohli was caught behind from a wide ball which he shouldn’t have hit – but the 25 year old Kohli must have been understandably tired after hitting another century, this latest century was the 22nd in a career which the Delhi man keeps breaking records.
This century which as we know was Kohli’s 22nd, meant that the RCB captain has got 22 centuries quicker than anyone else in the history of the game. When Kohli was out from the bowling of Sohail Khan that’s where India seemed to lose their way in this one.
A middle order collapse ensued their after. Suresh Raina who played beautifully for his 74 of 56 balls was the next man to go, closely followed by Ravi Jadeja, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane. In fact three Indian wickets fell with out a run being scored as Pakistan got a team hat trick if you will.
At one stage India were probably thinking 300-325 is a score they would want to set, in the end the two time world champions had to settle for a scorecard which read 300-7. The main reason for that score was due to the brilliant death bowling of Wahab Riaz and Sohail Khan who with his variations of pace took five wickets for 55 runs.
Ideally India would have wanted more – but 300 was still a good score to defend never the less.
Pakistan went out to bat knowing that despite conceding a high total, it was crucial that they didn’t be to aggressive from the start. The 1992 world champions opted for a different opening partnership by promoting Younus Khan to be Ahmed Shazhad’s opening partner.
That move backfired however as Pakistan got off to the start they were dreading. Khan a World T20 winning captain got a unwanted glove on a very well directed bouncer by Mohammed Shami to depart for just six. With that early set back, Pakistan opted to promote all-rounder Harris Sohail up the order. The 26 year old player from Sialkot didn’t disappoint either as he and Ahmed Shehzhad went about rebuilding the run chase.
To their credit both players went about their task well and for the opening overs of Pakistan’s chase they were actually near enough equal to India’s score at the same stage of their innings. Patient and intelligent cricket by Sohail and Shehzhad kept Pakistan in the hunt – but when Sohail fell to the spin of Ashwin, Pakistan’s chase spiralled out of control.
After being 100-2 at one stage, Pakistan lost three wickets and were soon wobbling at 103-5. Maqsood, Sehzhad and Umar Akmal in controversial circumstances all departed cheaply. The Pakistani’s would have felt aggrieved to see Akmal given out and for their referral to be ignored, even when TV replays didn’t conclusively show contact.
To cling on to that moment as turning point though -to be fair would be a bit desperate as Pakistan collapsed quite spectacularly. Not even a cameo from Shahid Afridi could help Pakistan. The Pakistani’s despite a battling 76 from skipper Misbah Ul-Haq feel well short in this run chase and crumbled to 224 all out in 47 overs.
Although this defeat will be a bitter pill to swallow against their arch rivals, Pakistan shouldn’t actually feel to disheartened. The 1992 champions can take some positives out of this game such as their death bowling – and the performances of Ahmed Shehzhad, Harris Sohail and of course the captain Misbah Ul-Haq.
Pakistan face West Indies next which won’t be easy – but is most definitely winnable. As for the winners of this match India, they can take some positives – but they will be hoping their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni can find some form with the bat. The defending champions next face South Africa so it’s crucial that India’s star players maintain their good form.