Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez has some explaining to do.
His side was defending just 129 – but 10 overs i.e. halfway into the Indian innings, his best bowler Saeed Ajmal had bowled just one over. Hafeez, himself, had not bowled even one ball neither had Shoaib Malik and this was after watching India’s slow bowlers have a great impact on the game.
It was pretty clear to anyone watching that Pakistan needed wickets if they wanted to make a game of it – but Ajmal was held back rather surprisingly. The field was also well spread out and the Indian batsmen had a pretty easy time taking singles and milking the bowling.
Pakistan’s fielding wasn’t good either – there were numerous misfields, a couple of dropped catches and a few overthrows as well. In the end, it enabled India to cruise to an easy 8-wicket win and stay alive in the tournament.
It also kept India’s record of never losing to Pakistan in a World Cup game intact. Since winning the 2007 World T20, the Indian team had failed to win any Super 8 game – but thankfully, that rotten streak has also ended.
The day started off with Hafeez winning the toss and elected to bat first. Maybe he was trying to take the pressure off his batsmen but it was a tactic that didn’t work very well.
The Pakistan captain himself played out a terribly staid innings of 15 off 28 balls – which when you consider the format was totally unforgiveable. The move to promote Shahid Afridi (14 off 12 balls) up the order to number was a good one. But he didn’t hang around long enough to make an impact.
And thereafter a steady procession of wickets saw Pakistan being reduced to 59-5. India’s part-timers did a brilliant job. After Balaji accounted for Afridi, Yuvraj Singh sent back Nasir Jamshed and Kamran Akmal in quick succession. Kohli took Hafeez’s wicket.
And suddenly the fight seemed to go out of the Pakistan batsmen. Thereafter, the Indians just didn’t let go. Ashwin took a couple of wickets, Balaji took another two in the last over of the innings.
When India’s batsmen came out, they knew that they didn’t need to do anything silly. But when Gambhir departed for a duck, there was some concern.
The experience of Virender Sehwag and the form of Virat Kohli helped settle things rather well. They just played normal cricket and they were helped by Pakistan’s strange tactics. It wasn’t a typical innings from Sehwag, who was making a comeback into the playing XI, he was subdued in a good way
By the time, the opener was dismissed India had reached 75 and were well on their way to victory. At the other end, Kohli was just too good. His run of good form shows no sign of abating – and that’s been the one bright spark for India in a dismal season.
His innings of 78 off 61 balls including 8 fours and 2 sixes was just what the doctor ordered for India. He was always in control and it’s a pity we can’t say the same for Pakistan.
Truth to be said, India hammered Pakistan in this match. But they still have some work to do, Dhoni’s men still need to go out and beat South Africa in the last match of the Super 8s. India’s net run-rate after this match is -0.452, marginally behind Pakistan -0.426. Without a win, India will have to depend on Australia to get their act together against Pakistan and hope South Africa don’t wake up for the last game.