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September 20, 2019
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India thrash Pakistan in marque game of ICC World Cup 2019

India outclassed Pakistan in all the three departments of the game in their ICC World Cup clash on Sunday, securing a rain-affected 89 run victory.

With this win, India continued their World Cup dominance over arch-rival Pakistan as the latter failed to register first ever victory of World Cup against India.

Pakistan, chasing 337, collapsed to 166-6 before a rain delay saw their target revised to another 136 runs required from 30 balls – a near-impossible task.

India, who have never lost a World Cup match to Pakistan, earlier posted an impressive 336-5, led by Rohit Sharma’s fine 140 and 77 from Virat Kohli.

Only Mohammad Amir (3-47) impressed with the ball for Pakistan and their run-chase crumbled in front of a vociferous crowd, before the rain delay added further confusion.

This was the marquee game of this World Cup – a sell-out crowd, one billion TV viewers and more than 700,000 ticket requests, but it ended with Pakistan knocking the ball around in front of a half-empty stadium.

India’s batting lit up the morning but, with rain falling and Pakistan’s innings crumbling, it was a tame end to a match that promised plenty.

Hardik Pandya took two wickets in two balls and Vijay Shankhar impressed on his World Cup debut, but there will be concern for India over the fitness of seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who left the field with a tight hamstring.

Pakistan, who are ninth having won just one group game, face South Africa on 23 June, while India play Afghanistan on Saturday.

Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed might have allowed himself a wry smile when he won the toss and, under grey clouds, put India in to bat in conditions that looked ideal for seam bowling.

With the exception of Amir, the Pakistan seamers were wasteful. Short balls were pulled into the stands by Rohit; length was nudged and nurdled around the field.

KL Rahul, partnering Rohit in Shikhar Dhawan’s absence, was stodgier. While Rohit struck out, hitting a poor Hassan Ali through the off side with panache, Rahul struggled for fluency.

This was the duo’s first time opening together and it showed, with Rohit lucky not to be run out after a mix-up mid-pitch as Fakhar Zaman threw the ball to the wrong end from mid-wicket.

In front of a packed crowd, Rohit reached his fastest one-day half-century, taking apart Shadab Khan with 17 runs from the leg-spinner’s first over.

Pakistan’s chase was more of a crawl. Needing to go at 6.74 an over, they never looked as though they would come close to India’s total, even before the anti-climactic ending.

They hit just six boundaries in the opening 10 overs and struggled to impose themselves. Bhuvneshwar and Jasprit Bumrah bowled tightly, Bumrah confusing the batsmen with his angled deliveries, but it was Shankar who took the first wicket.

With Bhuvneshwar leaving the field four balls into his third over, Shankar replaced him – and his first delivery trapped Imam-ul-Haq on the crease lbw.

There were moments that hinted at a comeback. Fakhar Zaman targeted Pandya, flat-batting him through cow-corner, and wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav was slogged to the boundary rope by the same batsman in the middle overs.

But there was no partnership, no ability by Pakistan to rotate the strike. From a comfortable, if non-threatening 117-1 in the 24th, they lost four wickets in three overs.

Babar Azam was bowled by a fine, fizzing delivery from Kuldeep, while nine balls later Mohammad Hafeez holed out at long-on off Pandya.

When Pandya bowled Shoaib Malik with his next delivery, Pakistan were in disarray even before the rain arrived.

While the majority of the crowd would have gone home satisfied – and without seeing the final five overs – it was a flat ending to a match that promised so much.