Mon | Jul 15, 2019

Unrivalled - India now 7-0 in ICC World Cup games against Pakistan

Published:Monday | June 17, 2019 | 12:29 AM
India captain Virat Kohli plays a shot under the watch of Pakistan wicketkeeper-captain Sarfaraz Ahmed during their ICC World Cup match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, yesterday.
India captain Virat Kohli plays a shot under the watch of Pakistan wicketkeeper-captain Sarfaraz Ahmed during their ICC World Cup match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, yesterday.

MANCHESTER, England (AP):

For such an intense rivalry, it’s still a lopsided contest when India and Pakistan meet at the ICC World Cup.

India extended their record to 7-0 against Pakistan at World Cups with an 89-run victory in a rain-interrupted encounter yesterday that likely will remain the most-watched game of the six-week tournament.

India started ominously with Rohit Sharma scoring 140 from 113 deliveries and skipper Virat Kohli contributing 77 in a total of 336-5, a record for a one-day international at Old Trafford.

Pakistan were always behind the run rate required.

Fakhar Zaman (62) and Babar Azam (48) put on 104 for the second wicket, but when both were dismissed by left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav within nine balls, Pakistan’s hopes faded with them.

Pakistan had slumped to 166-6 by the 35th over, when rain intervened again. It just prolonged the inevitable — there was no chance of sharing the points because both teams had batted more than 20 overs.

Set a revised target of 302 from 40 overs, the last 30-odd balls were a non-event. Pakistan finished 212-6, and India extend their unbeaten run to four games to start the tournament.

Sharma said the key was not getting caught up in the hype of any rivalry between the countries and the extra attention it brings.

“For us, it’s pretty simple, we’re here to win the game, not look at the opposition,” he said. “We’re here on a mission. Our focus is to make sure we accomplish that mission. All the outside talk will keep happening – for us, it’s just make sure we get the job done.”

THE CROWD

The conditions didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of a predominantly pro-India crowd that filled the 162-year-old venue to its 23,500 capacity. Seats were in excessively high demand, after all, with the International Cricket Council reporting more than 800,000 ticket applications for the game.

There’s always extra significance when the nuclear-armed neighbouring countries meet at ICC tournaments because India and Pakistan play cricket so infrequently in bilateral series.

TV AUDIENCE

This was no different, with a one billion-plus TV audience and an almost football-like atmosphere at the ground.

Kohli’s single to get off the mark was greeted by “Kohli-Kohli-Kohli” chants from the predominantly pro-India crowd.

Sharma set the tone with his second century of the tournament, sharing partnerships of 136 with KL Rahul (57) for the first wicket and 98 with Kohli.

He seemed ready to really unleash when he needlessly paddled a ball from Hasan Ali to Wahab Riaz at short fine leg in the 38th over.

Sharma attributed his run of form to the emotional high following the birth of a baby daughter.

“It’s just the space I’m in right now — it’s a very good phase in my life,” he said. “I’m enjoying my cricket (and) coming off a great IPL (Indian Premier League) campaign.”

Kohli continued, becoming the third Indian batter to pass 11,000 ODI runs. In doing so in his 222nd innings, he became the fastest to reach the milestone.