Champions Trophy throwback: India start title defence in style against arch rivals Pakistan
The backdrop to the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017 wasn’t the most ideal for the Indian cricket team. There was simmering tension between the BCCI and the ICC over the new financial model that saw the international body move away from ‘The Big Three’, which eventually resulted in a lower pay out for the Indian cricket board.
The participation of the Indian team in the tournament was held up till the very end due to this tug of war. While the team finally reached England for the tournament, news from within the dressing room wasn’t really the best either. Speculation was rife that the relationship between captain Virat Kohli and then coach Anil Kumble had fallen apart .
With all this baggage, India played their opener on June 4th at Edgbaston, in front of a sell out crowd, against arch rivals Pakistan. The Pakistanis under Sarfaraz Ahmed were the dark horses of the tournament. An India-Pakistan match is always special at this venue due to the high number of Asian fans, from both countries, who live in the area.
Ahmed won the toss and put India in. There were clouds all over Birmingham which were threatening to put this humdinger in danger, but they moved away just in time as the Indian innings began. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan had announced themselves on the international scene four years ago in the same tournament, as they went on a rampage and helped India win the title in 2013.
Dhawan upped the ante after a sedate start while Rohit looked to play the sheet anchor’s role. The duo complimented each other perfectly to thwart the danger posed by Pakistan’s seam bowlers. When Dhawan was finally dismissed after playing a handy knock of 68 runs, India were in cruise mode at 134/1. Virat Kohli joined Rohit in the middle and went after the Pakistani bowlers from the word go. Rohit missed out on a deserved century as he was run out ffor 91 but Pakistan’s misery didn’t end and Yuvraj Singh came out to bat and along with Kohli decemated the Pakistani bowling. The left-hander turned the clock back as he whacked the Pakistanis all round the park.
Kohli remained unbeaten on 81 off 68 deliveries while Yuvraj contributed 53 priceless runs in just 32 deliveries. Hardik Pandya scored a belligerent 20 off 6 balls as India ended at 319/3.
The Pakistanis were never really in the chase as they kept losing wickets at regular interval. Opener Azhar Ali top scored with 50 as the Pakistanis were bowled out for 164, handing India a huge morale boosting win first up. Pakistan’s coach Mickey Arthur was under fire in the post-match press conference but he promised his team would come back strong.
Those who remember the eventual outcome of the tournament know now that the Australian coach meant every word of what he had said after that humiliating loss.
Yuvraj Singh was adjudged ‘Man of the Match’ as it was his innings that provided teh much needed impetus for India to post a huge total.