Birmingham, June 5 India defeated arch-rivals Pakistan by 124 runs in a rain-marred Group B encounter of the Champions Trophy here on Sunday.
Asked to bat first, the Indians rode on a power-packed performance by the top order to post a challenging total of 319/3 in an innings affected by rain twice — and consequently shortened to 48 overs.
Further rain interruptions forced the match officials to revise the target to 324 runs off 48 overs according to the Duckworth-Lewis method.
The Pakistanis were off to a steady start thanks to openers Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad, who put together an opening stand of 47 runs in nine overs before pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck the first blow for India by trapping the latter leg before.
Ali continued to battle on, top scoring for Pakistan with a steady 50 runs off 65 balls before being dismissed.
But the rest of the Pakistan batsmen seemed to buckle under pressure and failed to rise to the challenge.
The promising Babar Azam – touted as Pakistan’s answer to Virat Kohli – seemed decidedly ordinary during his 12-ball stay in the middle, scoring just eight runs before a superb reflex catch by Ravindra Jadeja off Umesh Yadav’s bowling ensured his departure.
A 30-run stand between Ali and Mohammad Hafeez followed by a 23-run partnership by Hafeez and Shoaib Malik was the only bit of resistance that the Pakistanis could manage thereafter.
Apart from Ali, Hafeez was the only Pakistan batsmen who managed to stand up to the Indian bowlers even as wickets fell at regular intervals at the other end. He scored 33 off 43 balls with two hits to the fence.
Fast bowler Umesh Yadav was the most successful among the Indian bowlers with figures of 3/0 in 7.4 overs.
Fellow pacer Hardik Pandya and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja returned identical figures of 2/43 while Bhuvneshwar Kumar notched up 1/23.
Earlier, a brilliant batting display helped India post a challenging 319/3.
Top-order batsmen Rohit Sharma (91 runs in 119 balls), skipper Virat Kohli (81 not out), Shikhar Dhawan (68 runs in 65 balls) and Yuvraj Singh (53 runs in 32 balls) were the major contributors.
All forged crucial partnerships, played the ball to its merit and post-rain, when it was more difficult to bat with the same concentration, applied themselves to the English conditions.
Apart from the top order, all-rounder Hardik Pandya’s cameo (20 runs in six balls) was also useful.
World No 8 Pakistan, on the other hand, were seen struggling throughout the innings. Their fielders dropped several catches and their bowlers bowled poor length.
For India, Rohit and Shikhar started on a cautious note and just when both the batsmen seemed to be settling in the middle, rain played the spoilsport.
After almost a 40-minute hold-up, with the scoreboard reading 46 runs in 9.5 overs, India regrouped their strategy and started counter-attacking.
Rohit and Dhawan displayed some brilliant shots in order to boost the run rate. Rohit, who was struggling initially, got to his half-century in the 19th over with a pull that went for a six at the mid-wicket. Soon, in the very next over, Dhawan also brought up his 50 with a fine shot at backward point.
After scoring 110 runs in 20 overs, both sought to exploit the conditions and poor fielding from the Pakistani players. But while doing so, Dhawan was caught at deep mid-wicket by Azhar Ali off Shadab Khan in the 25th over, breaking their 136-run partnership.
Kohli, who came in, supported Rohit well at the other end by simply rotating the strike.
Rohit, who now seemed confident at the crease, kept on punishing the bowlers. But in the 33rd over, the skies opened up again and play was interrupted.
After a 45-minute hiatus, the Virat-Rohit partnership soon ended in the latter’s run-out — and he missed a well-deserved ton. In the 37th over, Virat wanted to steal a single but a strong throw from backward point by Babar Azam did the trick and Rohit, who slammed seven boundaries and two sixes, failed to scramble home.
Incoming batsman Yuvraj Singh, true to his reputation, started thrashing Pakistani bowlers all around. The pressure started building on the bowlers and fielders and, as a result, they dropped Yuvraj and Kohli in the process, which cost them hugely in the death overs.
The two batsman forged a 93-run partnership for the third wicket before Yuvraj was adjudged leg before wicket in the penultimate over after the Pakistan skipper went for a review and was called correct.
An unperturbed Kohli and new batsman Pandya played freely and started knocking the ball out of the ground. Pandya hit three consecutive sixes off Imad Wasim in the last over.
Shadab and Hasan Ali took one wicket each.