DUBAI Skipper Rohit Sharma and his deputy Shikhar Dhawan showed their mastery in white ball cricket with stylish hundreds as India took a giant stride towards summit clash of Asia Cup with a comfortable nine-wicket win against Pakistan here Sunday.
This is India’s biggest win against Pakistan in terms of number of wickets lost.
Chasing a target of 238, Rohit (111 no off 119 balls) and Dhawan (114 off 100 balls) flayed the Pakistan attack adding 210 runs for the opening stand to seal their second lopsided victory in the tournament in only 39.3 overs.
It was Rohit’s third successive fifty 50 plus score in the tournament with sequence being 52, 83 no and 111 no.
Dhawan’s is even more impressive with 127, 46, 40 and 114.
One of the most fearsome opening pairs in ODI format, Rohit-Dhawan combination were helped by some ordinary bowling from Pakistan with equally sloppy fielding compounding their woes.
Their understanding in 22 yards is exemplary and as Dhawan teed off witha flurry of boundaries, Rohit was ready to hold one end up.
Dhawan, who is comfortable on pitches where thee is lack of movement played some lovely drives on the up. He also pulled with ferocity and cut anything wide.
Rohit’s first significant shot was a pulled six off rookie pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Dhawan also gave the same treatment to an woefully out of form Mohammed Aamir (0/41 in 5 overs).
Dhawan’s 50 came off 56 balls with a pulled boundary while Rohit took 65 balls to reach the mini milestone.
However after completing their fifties, it was a role reversal with the skipper suddenly shifting gears as he hit leg-spinner Shahdab Khan for two sixes over deep mid-wicket.
Dhawan reached his 15th hundred with a cover drive off Afridi and celebrated it with a huge six and a boundary before being needlessly run-out. His innings had 16 fours and two sixes.
Just like his half-century, Rohit scampered home for a double to complete his 19th ton and on the way also completed 7000 runs in ODI format. By the time the match ended Rohit had hit seven fous and four sixes.
Earlier, Pakistan produced an improved batting performance, led by India’s nemesis Shoaib Malik, scoring 237 for 7 in 50 overs.
Veteran Malik scored 78 off 90 balls and added an invaluable 107 runs for the fourth wicket with skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (44 off 66 balls) to enable Pakistan post a fighting total.
The Pakistan innings could be segregated into three distinct parts. A slow start where India made inroads followed by solid middle-overs batting before failing to utilise the launch pad fully with Jasprit Bumrah (2/29 in 10 overs) being brilliant at the death.
India once again started well with Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s penchant for getting DRS reviews right after Yuzvendra Chahal (2/46 in 9 overs) got his first wicket by trapping Imam ul Haq (10) in front of the stumps.
Fakhar Zaman (31) was set but lost his footing trying to sweep Kuldeep Yadav (2/41 in 10 overs) to get leg before. The replays showed that the ball hit his gloves first but Pakistan didn’t take a review.
Babar Azam was run-out when his skipper got a call for single wrong as Pakistan were reduced to 58 for three.
However it was the Malik-Sarfraz combination that provided the launch pad with their sensible approach during the middle overs.
The seasoned duo kept on rotating the strike, hitting the boundaries and sixes whenever given an opportunity.
Malik, who is a master player of spin bowling, hit Yuzvendra Chahal for a slog sweep and also played Kedar Jadhav (0/20 in 3 overs) well. Jadhav was hit for a couple of boundaries in a single over as he dropped short.
Without trying to defend, Malik-Sarfraz got singles at will against Jadhav, prompting Rohit to take him off attack after only three overs.
Ravinda Jadeja (0/50 in 9 overs) after a good match against Bangladesh was flat and Malik used his feet to perfection lofting him straight into the VIP stands for a six.
Sarfraz, who played second fiddle to perfection was finally dismissed when he tried to hit Kuldeep over cover only to be snapped by Rohit Sharma.
Malik was joined by Asif Ali (30 off 21 balls), who teed off by smashing Bhuvneshwar Kumar for two sixes and a boundary in the 42nd over, that fetched Pakistan 22 runs.
However, there was another twist left as Jasprit Bumrah, coming back for his final spell got an inside edge off Malik’s bat to get him caught behind. His innings had four boundaries and two sixes.
Asif, who looked like cutting loose, missed a googly from Chahal to get bowled as Pakistan lost the momentum.
Bumrah was phenomenal at the death, bowling block-hole deliveries at will. In all he bowled 39 dot balls in his 10 overs and Pakistan could score only 38 runs in their last seven overs.
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