June 16th, 2019. This date was marked on every cricket fan’s calendar on the day the schedule of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 was announced. Reason-The biggest ever rivalry on a 22-yard pitch was going to happen on that date. An Indo-Pak game is more than a cricket match and the atmosphere around the stadium and across the cricket-frenzy nations was proof of the same.
With India not able to complete their quota, Pakistan is expected to be given a stiff target of 341 runs to chase in the second innings.
The spin of the coin
In an off-football season, Manchester was still making noise across England. The reason this time around was its weather. The weather forecast was building anxiety amongst cricket fans. However, on the match-day, the sun was out and the weather promised a good setting for what is supposed to be the marquee game of this World Cup.
Having won the toss, Pakistan put India to bat first thereby making their intentions clear of testing the resolve of the Indian openers with some good swing bowling. India had to make a forced change with Vijay Shankar replacing the injured Shikar Dhawan.
The First Innings
As Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul came on to the field, they had a challenging job of enduring a good spell of swing bowling from Mohammed Amir and Hassan Ali. The Indian duo did well as they were cautious while playing Amir and attacked Hassan Ali who was off-color with a few wayward deliveries.
Rohit Sharma was particularly merciless in putting away the bad balls as he quickly got 39 runs in the first 10 overs at a strike-rate more than 100. This allowed KL Rahul to get used to the conditions as he slowly started matching the Hitman with his strokes. Although Imad Wasim and Wahab Riaz did restrict the boundary flow in the overs between 10 and 20, the overs by Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez helped India maintain a healthy run-rate.
After Rohit got to his fifty, KL Rahul followed him to the milestone with two huge strikes over the boundary. However, of Wahab Riaz’s bowling, the Karnataka lad gave a simple catch to Babar Azam thereby ending his good knock of 57 runs. The captain was in and Rohit was getting close to yet another century in this World Cup.
Virat took a few balls to get going but the impressive 2’s he started scoring was applying pressure on the Pakistani fielders thus forcing errors out of them. Rohit Sharma continued his momentum as he brought up a brilliant century maintaining a strike-rate above 100. The runs were flowing before Rohit misjudged the placement of fielders as he gave a simple catch to fine-leg of the bowling of Hassan Ali. His 140-run knock set a platform for the likes of Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni to capitalize on in the end overs.
Unlike his recent batting form, Hardik struggled to time a few balls as he contributed 26 runs to the team’s total of 19 deliveries. Virat started getting a move-on as he brought his second consecutive half-century of the tournament. Mohammed Amir removed MS Dhoni immediately whose effort to pull off a big shot produced a thick outside edge to the Pakistani skipper. World Cup debutante Vijay Shankar came in as the Indian side started to launch big to get to a commanding total.
However, the rain-gods stepped in as the umpires had to force the players out of the field when India still had 20 balls left in their innings.