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PHOTOS: India destroy Pakistan in Champions Trophy opener

IMAGE: India captain Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja celebrate the wicket of Azhar Ali. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Defending champions India thrashed Pakistan by 124 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method in their rain-hit ICC Champions Trophy match, in Birmingham, on Sunday.

Put into bat, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh stood out in an all-round batting effort, propelling India to a massive 319 for three in 48 overs.

Set a revised target of 324 in 48 overs, which became 289 in 41 after three rain interruptions, Pakistan struggled with the bat and were eventually bowled out for 164 in 33.4 overs, with Umesh Yadav claiming three wickets, while Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took two wickets apiece.

Virat Kohli

IMAGE: India captain Virat Kohli hits out. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

India’s batsmen remained focussed despite the rain breaks with Rohit Sharma (91 off 119), Shikhar Dhawan (68 off 65), Virat Kohli (81 not out off 68) and Yuvraj (53 off 32) rising to the occasion in a game reduced to 48 overs a side following two rain intervals.

Thanks to the big hitting by Yuvraj, Kohli and Hardik Pandya at the death, India amassed 72 runs in the last four overs with the 46th and 48th going for 21 and 23 runs.

The revised target for Pakistan via the Duckworth-Lewis method is 324 in 48 overs.

Yuvraj Singh

IMAGE: Yuvraj Singh on the attack. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

While Kohli punished pacer Wahab Riaz, Pandya smashed three consecutive sixes off left-arm spinner Imad Wasim in the final over.

In a match watched by the legendary Sachin Tendulkar from the stands, Indian batsmen went on the rampage in the death overs after patiently seeing off two rain breaks.

Play was stopped first when India were 46 for no loss in the 10th over and rain played spoilsport again when they were 173 for one in the 34th over with Rohit and Kohli going strong in the middle overs.

It was not surprising that Sarfraz Ahmed sent India in to bat after winning the toss under overcast conditions at the Edgbaston stadium.

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma, left, is congratulated by Shikhar Dhawan after completing his half-century. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

The atmosphere around the ground was electric though the day began on a sombre note with players of both teams observing a minute’s silence for the people killed in Saturday’s terror attack in central London.

The start of the Indian innings increased the excitement levels by a few notches with a charged-up Mohammad Amir beating Rohit’s bat three times in what turned out to be a maiden over.

It was a cautious start by both the openers with just 15 coming in five overs.

Amir’s first spell of four overs was exceptional as he gave away 14 runs and was a tad unlucky to not get a wicket.

IMAGE: The Edgbaston stadium under covers. Photograph courtesy: ICC/Twitter

Skipper Ahmed started with the pace of Amir and left-arm spin of Wasim. Though Wasim was economical, facing a spinner early on released the pressure on Rohit and Dhawan with Amir cranking up good pace at the other end.

The experienced duo then played their strokes, especially Rohit, who exquisitely punched through the off-side. He brought his fifty by depositing spinner Shadab Khan over deep mid-wicket for a six. The stylish batsman was playing in his first international game since October last year, having undergone a thigh surgery in November.

IMAGE: India opener Rohit Sharma. Photograph courtesy: ICC/Twitter

After Rohit reached his half-century, Dhawan too changed gears as he smashed pacer Wahab Riaz for three successive fours before completing his half century.

After the fall of openers, Kohli and Yuvraj drove India’s innings forward quite well in the middle overs. While Kohli was scratchy for a major part of his innings, Yuvraj was in full flow from the word go, hitting the Pakistani bowlers to all parts of the ground.

IMAGE: Fan with banners outside the ground in wake of the Saturday’s terror attack in London. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

The stylish southpaw hit eight crisp boundaries and a six in his entertaining knock, while Kohli made up for a sluggish start with a late flourish, ending with six fours and three sixes.

Pakistan were ordinary on the field with Hasan Ali guilty of dropping Yuvraj when he was on nine. A little later, substitute Fakhar Zaman dropped Kohli on 43, which eventually ended up hurting Pakistan badly.

Hardik Pandya, promoted ahead of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav, ended the innings in grand style as he hammered left-arm spinner Imad for three consecutive sixes

IMAGE: India captain Virat Kohli and Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed at the toss. Photograph courtesy: ICC/Twitter

Earlier, Pakistan won the toss and elected to field. India went in with five specialist bowlers including all-rounder Hardik Pandya with Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammad Shami missing out.

Among the batsmen, Kedar Jadhav was picked ahead of Dinesh Karthik.


India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (captain), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.

Pakistan: Azhar Ali, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali.

Source: Rediff