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Dead rubber drowned by rain

India maintain intensity in the inconsequential game to brush aside Pakistan; become the only team in the event to advance with all-win record, reports Rohit Bhaskar.

cricket Updated: Jun 16, 2013 03:36 IST
Rohit Bhaskar

Pakistan fans, taking a leaf out of the English Barmy Army and the Indian Swami Army, came to Edgbaston in an open-top double-decker bus. They call themselves the Stani Army.

The bus is green and seated over 100 diehard fans. Most of the fans left early, during one of the innumerable rain stoppages. As they were going past the bus, a few fans shouted out, “Barood se uda do is bus ko (Use TNT to blow up the bus)”.

The fans had reason to be distraught. Their team continued their horrific Champions Trophy campaign with possibly their worst batting performance of the tournament (comparing how poorly they batted in the first two matches, one wouldn’t think it could get any worse. But it did!).

The fact that this came in the highly-anticipated, emotionally-charged match against traditional rivals India compounded matters. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/6/16_06_13-metro21b.gif

An eight-wicket win by the Indians after chasing down an eventual target of 102 in 22 overs — the initial target was 166 in 40 overs which was first revised to 157 in 36 overs — left them with little to cheer about.

Early strikes

After opener Nasir Jamshed fell to Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the second over of the match, Kamran Akmal and Muhammad Hafeez rebuilt the innings. Pakistan were 50/1 at the end of the 12th over when rain forced them to go off the field.

The first ball after their return, Bhuvneshwar dismissed Hafeez as MS Dhoni held a good catch diving to his right.

Akmal departed soon afterwards. He went for an expansive drive off R Ashwin, but inside-edged it. The ball bounced off Dhoni’s thigh and lobbed to Virat Kohli standing at leg-slip.

Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s most successful (only successful) batsman of the tournament, then added 54 runs with Asad Shafiq before Ravindra Jadeja’s increasingly potent arm-ball saw him lose his stumps.

From that point, it looked like game over with the Indian bowlers and fielders on song. Bhuvneshwar completed his eight overs, in an innings reduced to 40 overs, early and was often unplayable for the Pakistan batsmen.

Ishant Sharma had his best bowling show, as did spinner Ashwin. Both got two wickets. With Bhuvneshwar and Jadeja also getting two wickets each, it was a complete team effort.

India continued to set very high standards on the field, Rohit Sharma's brilliant catch diving forward to send back Saeed Ajmal being a case in point. As was Virat Kohli's direct hit, to run out Junaid Khan, which didn't just uproot the stumps but broke it in half.

The fielding inside the 30-yard circle was also typified with brilliant dives and many boundaries saved.