Unrivaled: India now 7-0 in World Cup games against Pakistan
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — For such an intense rivalry, it’s still a lopsided contest when India and Pakistan meet at the Cricket World Cup.
India extended its record to 7-0 against Pakistan at World Cups with an 89-run victory in a rain-interrupted encounter Sunday 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 was 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 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 its 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 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 neighboring countries meet at ICC tournaments because India and Pakistan play cricket so infrequently in bilateral series.
This was no different, with a 1 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 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.
Kohli was on 71 and India was 305-4 when rain stopped play for the first time in the 47th over. The India captain was caught behind off Mohammad Amir’s bowling not long after he returned from the 55-minute rain break and, surprisingly, walked off before umpire Marais Erasmus had a chance to signal him out.
There was some speculation Kohli didn’t edge the ball but it was inconsequential in the end, as India passed Sri Lanka’s 318-7 against England in 2006 to set the highest ODI total in Manchester.
After a batting onslaught at the top, Pakistan pegged back the run-rate slightly as Amir (3-47) dismissed Pandya (26) and then had MS Dhoni (1) and Kohli caught behind — both the ex-captain and captain walking.
Things started going haywire for Pakistan after skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed won the toss and fielded, going against the advice sent via social media by Prime Minister and 1992 World Cup-winning captain Imran Khan.
Overcast and cool overhead conditions that usually would favor swing and seam bowling didn’t greatly assist the Pakistan attack, with India racing to 52-0 in its most productive opening power play of the tournament.
The Pakistan pacemen had trouble with the umpires, with Amir and Wahab each cautioned twice for running on the protected area in the middle of the pitch. One further warning would have resulted in a suspension.
It also didn’t help that opener Imam-ul-Haq got out in rare circumstances to Vijay Shankar’s very first delivery at a World Cup — it coming on the fifth ball of Pakistan’s fifth over after Shankar was asked to finish it off for injured teammate Bhuveshwar Kumar.
Sarfaraz said India was better recently at handling the high-pressure situations, and Pakistan wasn’t performing with bat, ball or in the field.
Pakistan’s next game is at Lord’s against South Africa, which also has three points and only remote prospects of reaching the semifinals.