Sydney, March 26(IANS) - Australia captain Michael Clarke won the toss and opted to bat…
India defeated Pakistan by 76 runs at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday, in their first match of the World Cup. Thus, India extended their World Cup record over Pakistan to 6-0.
Coming into the tournament, India were seen to be lacking in both form and confidence, only having beaten Afghanistan in a warm up game – their lone win of the season. But there is no doubt that India pulled up their socks in all departments against Pakistan on Sunday.
Here we look at five reasons why India defeated Pakistan once again in the World Cup:
1) Shikhar Dhawan hit form: Shikhar Dhawan has been out of form all season, or maybe he could not get used to the pace and bounce of Australian wickets. His poor run in the Tests and ODI series against Australia was seen as a major cause of concern, and severely weakened India’s opening. But on Monday, Dhawan finally came good. He wisely played himself in during the first few overs and when the ball got older, began to play his strokes.
The introduction of spin also benefited Dhawan as Yasir Shah and Shahid Afridi failed to extract much turn from the wicket. They eventually bowled 16 overs for 110 between them and took no wickets. Dhawan was out in a most unfortunate manner, run out at the non-striker’s end by Misbah ul-Haq. He had been looking good for a century.
2) Virat Kohli’s partnerships with Dhawan and Suresh Raina, and his century: Kohli has been in and out of form. In the Australia test series he was in brilliant touch, scoring 4 centuries. In the ODI series he was off his game, looking diffident with his timing and placement problematic. On Sunday, Kohli walked in at his preferred No 3 spot, but was unable to bat fluently from the beginning.
After Dhawan departed, Raina’s brilliance meant India did not collapse, and that Kohli could keep playing within himself. The India No 3 was then dropped again on 76 and went on to make a century. The innings might have been shaky but it was critical in the context of the game. By the time he was out, India were 273 in 45 overs.
3) Suresh Raina’s brilliance: Despite Kohli, India would have been nowhere close to 300 had Raina not played a blinder. He came in at 163/2 in the 30th over and proceded to smash 74 off 56 balls. India scored just 27 runs off the last five overs but Raina’s blitz especially between the 41st and 45th over, which ensured the team reached a big total.
3) Good fielding: India often tend to come up short in the fielding department, though it has improved over the past decade or so. But on Sunday India were especially sharp in the field. Raina ended Haris Sohail’s knock with a superb slip catch and then Jadeja dived to dismiss the set Ahmed Shehzad. Finally, Kohli got rid of Pakistan’s last real hope – Afridi – diving forward at cover point. In between, India’s ground fielding was excellent and they rarely missed easy chances.
4) Umesh Yadav’s big over: Umesh Yadav is much reviled these days for only being quick and nothing else. His performance on the Australia tour has been generally poor and runs have flowed freely off his bowling. On Sunday, Yadav wasn’t particularly relevant either, except for one over. But that over turned the game India’s way.
Yadav’s first wicket was all luck. Ahmed Shehzad, well set on 47, hit a short, wide ball to the left of Jadeja at point. Jadeja had to dive to make the catch, and he almost spooned it but managed to hold on at the second take. Just two balls later, a nervous waft outside off stump by Sohaib Maqsood brought about an edge to Dhoni. From 101/2 Pakistan had slipped to 102/4 and the floodgates had opened.
5) Shahid Afridi’s wicket: Shahid Afridi walked in with Pakistan needing 199 runs to win at over 7.5 runs per over. From there on, for a player like Afridi, there was just one way to go – attack. He tonked Ravindra Jadeja for six off his fifth ball but was unable to get his timing right otherwise. Finally, with the required rate climbing towards 10, Afridi tried to go over the off side, miscued and was superbly caught by Kohli for 22.
Though Misbah ul-Haq tried hard, there was no realistic way back for Pakistan after that. In fact, Mohammad Shami dismissed Wahab Riaz in the same over to make the score 154/7 and end Pakistan’s hopes of breaking their World Cup jinx against India.
India’s better batting performance was also bouyed by a more spirited bowling and fielding effort than we have seen all season. India play South Africa next on February 22. South Africa are not looking particularly unbeatable at the moment, having lost a warm up game to New Zealand and allowed Zimbabwe to put up a fight in their first league match. India will hope they can carry both form and passion from the Pakistan game over to the South Africa game, to have a chance of winning it.