Rohit Sharma’s sparkling 140 from 113 balls helped India maintain their stranglehold over Pakistan in the World Cup in front of a global television audience of around one billion viewers.
One day after Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur challenged his players to “do something incredible (and) be remembered forever”, it was Rohit who rose to the occasion in a highly-charged environment at a packed-out Old Trafford.
The opener’s century, which contained 14 fours and three sixes, allied to fifties from KL Rahul and Virat Kohli, instigated an 89-run rain-affected victory – India’s seventh win in seven matches against their arch rivals at this tournament.
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Where else to start? After surviving a couple of run-out opportunities early on, Rohit put Pakistan’s bowlers to the sword in an innings containing 14 fours and three sixes. After he progressed to three figures for the 24th time in one-day internationals, Pakistan would have feared a fourth double ton was in the offing until he miscued a scoop to short fine leg.
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The India opener attributed his excellent start to the tournament – 319 runs from three innings – to happiness in his personal life.
Another day, another record for India’s captain extraordinaire. Kohli joins the 11,000-run club in ODIs in only his 222nd inning. Sachin Tendulkar, Kohli’s predecessor as India’s golden boy, had held the previous record, reaching the mark in his 276th inning.
Rohit deserves an honourable mention for uppercutting a wider delivery from Hasan Ali for six but Kohli’s dreamy cover drive – his first four of the day – deserves to take this honour. There was nothing particularly wrong with the delivery from Mohammad Amir but Kohli, with all the expertise of a man ranked at the top of the ODI rankings, leaned into the ball and punched through the covers, bisecting two fielders.
There was just the faintest hint of desperation for India as Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam rebuilt steadily before beginning to cut loose in a stand worth 104 for the second wicket. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar off the field with a tight hamstring and ruled out of the rest of the day, India were a bowler light. Step forward Kuldeep Yadav, the left-arm wrist-spinner spun one back in that sailed through the gap between Babar’s bat and pad, castling him. Pakistan then lurched from 117 for one to 129 for five, ending the game as a contest.
Monday June 17: West Indies v Bangladesh at Taunton