Yet another commanding show

India bowled tight and fielded exceptionally well against a batting group that continued to flounder in a rain interrupted and a shortened game that killed the ebb and flow of the affair. Shreedutta Chidananda reports.

As far as India-Pakistan matches go, this was far from a classic. Four rain interruptions and a shortened game killed the ebb and flow of the affair, but there was no denying India its win. This was yet another commanding performance from M. S. Dhoni’s men, despite that it was a dead rubber, as they remained unbeaten through their Group ‘B’ engagements. India bowled tight and fielded exceptionally well against a batting group that continued to flounder.

The man of the match Bhuvneshwar Kumar tied Pakistan up with the new ball, removing Nasir Jamshed — the only batsman apart from Misbah-ul-Haq who has scored any runs — and bowling two successive maidens early on. Dhoni has preferred to bowl out Bhuvneshwar Kumar with the new ball and with good reason. The U.P. player may not bowl express pace but he is accurate and moves the new ball both ways. The ball has neither moved in the air or off the pitch as much as expected in England but Bhuvneshwar has been controlled and miserly. “I’d always wondered how it would feel to play in England.

“I’m enjoying bowling here because the ball is swinging and I can take early wickets to put the opposition under pressure. It’s true that the ball is not swinging as much as we expected but there is good bounce on the wickets here,” he said.

“The captain understands that I do my best with the new ball so he bowls me early. I try to improve as much as possible with the old ball as well by bowling in the nets,” Bhuvneshwar added.

Pakistan played to form, its batting woes continuing unresolved. The first rain interruption killed any momentum Mohammed Hafeez and Kamran Akmal had generated with their half-century partnership. Once Hafeez fell, first ball on resumption — much to his irritation — and Akmal followed, out to a turning, bouncing ball from R. Ashwin, only the captain stood in the way.

Although Misbah showed the rain hadn’t affected his concentration one bit, reverse-sweeping one to the boundary, he was removed by Ravindra Jadeja, whose bowling was critical on yet another surface that offered good turn. Misbah played all around a delivery that went straight and was bowled neck and crop.

Two more wickets fell to spin, Jadeja trapping Shoaib Malik in front and Ashwin bowling Wahab Riaz through the gate.

India’s fielding came to the fore during the game. Dhoni later called his Indian team the best fielding side in the tournament and he wasn’t entirely incorrect. Rohit Sharma took a diving catch to dismiss Saeed Ajmal while Virat Kohli ran Junaid Khan out in thrilling fashion.

India’s run chase, the target thrice revised, was straightforward. Shikhar Dhawan took off and though Rohit was dismissed early there was little to fear. It looked at the fourth rain break that the match would have to be called off without the minimum 20 overs possible. But the weather turned, for the umpteenth time, and India knocked off the 39 needed thereafter for victory in quick time.

Back home, the recriminations will now begin for Pakistan, which failed to win a single game. The anger will be deep and wide. “Let’s not be emotional about this,” Dav Whatmore said afterwards. “Games are won and games are lost and series are won and series are lost. I’d much rather be here talking to you, at least, after a win today, but that’s not to be. These things happen but don’t get carried away too much.”

Whatmore’s shrugging and excuses will cut little ice. “You don’t have to be Einstein to say that we didn’t make enough runs,” he said, while maintaining that the poor batting was only specific to the Champions Trophy. “We were one ODI victory from having a good series here, but that’s the way it goes. It’s easy to sit there and be critical but from our point of view we’re looking to be objective and to improve things.”

THE SCORES India v Pakistan, Edgbaston, June 15, 2013.

Pakistan: Nasir Jamshed c Raina b Kumar 2; Kamran Akmal c Kohli b Ashwin 21; Mohammad Hafeez c Dhoni b Kumar 27; Asad Shafiq c Dhoni b Ishant 41; Misbah-ul-Haq b Jadeja 22; Shoaib Malik lbw b Jadeja 17; Umar Amin (not out) 27; Wahab Riaz b Ashwin 0; Saeed Ajmal c R. Sharma b Ishant 5; Junaid Khan (run out) 0; Mohammad Irfan (run out) 0; Extras (lb-1, w-2) 3. Total (in 39.4 overs) 165.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-50, 3-56, 4-110, 5-131, 6-139, 7-140, 8-159, 9-159.

India bowling: B. Kumar 8-2-19-2; Yadav 6.4-0-29-0; Ishant 7-0-40-2; Ashwin 8-0-35-2; Kohli 2-0-11-0; Jadeja 8-1-30-2.

India: R. Sharma c Misbah b Ajmal 18; S. Dhawan c Jamshed b Riaz 48; V. Kohli (not out) 22; D. Karthik (not out) 11; Extras (w-3) 3. Total (for two wkts., in 19.1 overs) 102. (D/L method).

Fall of wickets: 1-58, 2-78.

Pakistan bowling: Md. Irfan 4-0-24-0; Junaid 4-0-21-0; Ajmal 5-0-29-1; Md. Hafeez 2.1-0-8-0; Riaz 4-0-20-1.