India continued their dominance over Pakistan in World Cups, beating them for the seventh time in succession as they won comfortably by 89 runs at Old Trafford. Rain was expected to play spoil sport in Manchester, but fortunately didn’t have much of a role to play, with a result guaranteed by the time the heavens really opened up. Here are our five talking points from this game.
Rohit Sharma’s missed run out
Vice captain Rohit Sharma continued his great run of form with a sparkling 140 that had the foundation for India’s formidable 336/5. In the absence of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit took on the aggressor’s role and allowed stand-in opener KL Rahul to settle in at the other end.
However Pakistan were left ruing what could’ve been- Rohit should’ve been run out when he was on 32, but Fakhar Zaman threw to the wrong end, and the MI skipper survived. The reprieve offered to Aaron Finch in the game against Australia cost Pakistan dearly, and likewise today with Sharma.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar joins Dhawan in the treatment room /strong>
The Men in Blue suffered a major blow as Bhuvneshwar Kumar left the field having bowled just 2.4 overs after he complained of soreness in his left hamstring. They fortunately had decent backup in the form of all-rounder Vijay Shankar, who achieved the rare feat of claiming a wicket with his first ever World Cup delivery after trapping Imam Ul Haq in front. India’s bowling depth allowed them to cover for the absence of Bhuvi here, something that past Indian teams might not have managed to do.
Kumar has been ruled out for the matches against Afghanistan, West Indies and also potentially against hosts England on June 30. Mohammad Shami will replace him for these games, but India will hope to have Kumar back soon given that his batting also lends valuable depth to their lower order.
KL Rahul makes an important half century
In the absence of the injured Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul grabbed his opportunity with both hands by scoring a well made 57. It wasn’t the fastest half century, but it ensured that India had a solid foundation at the top, and the Men in Blue were able to capitalise on it, just as they had done against South Africa and Australia.
Did Pakistan err in team selection & choosing to field first?
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, on social media, had advised his side against picking Railu Kattas (bits and pieces all-rounders) and insisted that his side should preferably bat first. Sarfaraz however chose to send India in after winning the toss. Mohammad Amir, while being miserly, didn’t get wickets upfront, and the rest of the bowlers- Hassan Ali in particular, were too inconsistent. Pakistan also picked two spinners in Shadab and Imad, but the former had a bad day at the office, and the latter was economical, but unable to replicate the success that counterpart Kuldeep Yadav had with the ball.
Given the way they’ve chopped and changed their team in this tournament, Pakistan don’t quite seem to know what their best XI is. India, bar injury enforced changes, have stuck to the same XI in all of their games.
Is this the end of the road for Shoaib Malik?
Malik has been in and out of the Pakistan squad, but was chosen for this game, with the think tank hoping that his vast experience and past record against India would pay off. Instead the veteran, who was pictured smoking shisha just hours before the game, fell for a duck. With scores of 8, 0 and 0 in his three games at the tournament and nothing much to show with the ball either, time is running out for the 37 year old. Has he played his last game in this format for Pakistan?