In an ODI match marred by rain, interruptions, and controversies, spanning over two days, India showed its supremacy with both bat and ball against arch-rivals Pakistan in the ongoing Asia Cup 2023.
The contest saw India posting an imposing total of 356/2, thanks to exceptional performances from Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul on the second day, and an all-round team effort. The contest eventually ended with a resounding 228-run victory for India, its largest margin of victory against Pakistan.
Virat's elegant 122 off just 94, mastering the art of pacing innings, made him the fastest player to reach 13,000 runs in ODI.
Kohli and Rahul's partnership
- India's dominance in the match was largely attributed to the stellar partnership between Virat Kohli and KL Rahul.
- Kohli, who notched up his 47th ODI century, displayed his prowess in pacing an innings while Rahul returned to competitive cricket with a stylish century, playing silky strokes, proving his worth as a middle-order batsman.
- India Captain Rohit Sharma hailed the team, "Fantastic performance, right from yesterday. We knew the wicket was good, and we had to adjust with the rain. The two experienced guys, Kohli and Rahul, we knew they'd take time to get their eye in and then we can get going."
- Kohli's exquisite timing and Rahul's balance of strike rotation and big hits set the stage for India's formidable total of 356/2.
- Virat Kohli, Player of the Match, said, "I was going to ask you to keep the interview short, I'm very tired. Today, KL got a great start, and my job was just to rotate the strike. I take a lot of pride in trying to push for easy runs, pushing for a double is as easy as they come."
Kuldeep Yadav's magical spell
- Kuldeep Yadav, who struggled in the group stage, came back with a vengeance to bamboozle the clueless Pakistan batters.
- The Chinaman's artistry with the ball left Pakistan's middle and lower order in disarray, ultimately finishing with impressive figures of 5/25.
- Kuldeep's performance reinforced India's bowling attack which, earlier in the match had set the tone with Bumrah, Shardul and Hardik getting one wicket each.
- Reflecting on the special spell, Kuldeep Yadav said, "It is the consistency from the last one and a half years. I have got my rhythm back and am enjoying my bowling. I am focusing on bowling wicket to wicket, and good sides give me a chance to get wickets."
Indian bowling attack
- India's bowlers complemented the strong batting display with a disciplined performance on the same wicket where Pakistani bowlers looked lacklustre, with Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf injured.
- Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya made early breakthroughs, while Shardul Thakur's wicket of Rizwan further derailed Pakistan's chase.
- With Pakistan's top-order crumbling under pressure, it was a collective effort that saw India wrapping up the game with 18 overs to spare.
- Pakistan had a challenging day as injuries to bowling spearheads, Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah, added to their woes.
- Pakistan's batting lineup could not withstand the pressure imposed by India's formidable total and effective pace and spin bowling.
- Pakistan Captain Babar Azam admitted, "We were not up to the mark with our batting and bowling."
In the one-sided affair that saw India's dominance, the match proved to be a comprehensive victory for the Men in Blue. As the men, today will play Sri Lanka, making it the third consecutive day of play, it remains crucial to see how the players' workload will be managed as the final stage of the Asia Cup awaits, and so does the World Cup later this year.