Attempting to break the curse of losing to India in successive World Cups, the Pakistani side suffered a heart-breaking defeat before a sea of blue shirts that had flooded the Adelaide Oval stadium on Sunday.
Standing by my prediction, Pakistan was all set to carve its name in the history books; so what went wrong? India was clearly wary of making mistakes from the start. Their three top-order batsmen, Sharma, Dhawan and Kohli, decided to play it safe and avoid danger, leading India to an impressive 165-2 at the 30-over mark.
By that time in the innings, Pakistani captain Misbah-ul-Haq had already tested his six bowlers, all of whom lacked the ingenuity and variety to trouble the Indian batsmen. With 5 overs remaining and the scoreboard already showing 273-2, the Pakistani team were expecting a humongous target on the board.
Sohail Khan was the man of the hour for Pakistan, with figures of 55-5
However, as the weather changed with the arrival of the clouds, so did the performance of the Shaheens. It was as if the tamed Pakistani bowling attack had finally bared their fangs and claws. Wahab Riaz and Sohail Khan charged in with magnificent line and variety to restrict the Men in Blue to 300-7. Khan was the man of the hour for Pakistan, with figures of 55-5.
There were many surprises in the Pakistani innings. Several bewildered eyes looked towards the television screen for confirmation when Younis Khan stepped onto the field to open with Ahmed Shehzad. It didn’t take long for Khan to be replaced by another middle-order batsman, Haris Sohail. Shehzad and Sohail had a strong start, but just as they were about to lift off, Indian captain M. S. Dhoni opted to bring more fielders into the inner circle, restricting shot selections.
It wasn’t long before wickets started falling due to superb fielding from the Indian team. Lone ranger Misbah fought valiantly till the end, but the skipper received little support from his comrades. Umar Akmal’s dubious caught-behind decision from the third umpire was the final nail in the coffin for Pakistan, before it stumbled to a measly 224 in 47 overs.
Mohammed Shami is congratulated upon removing Younis Khan
India has only given a teaser of the strength in their batting side, which will be the key to their success in this tournament. On the other hand, Pakistan needs to stand back up, brush off the dust, and stop further experimentation during the World Cup!
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