India registered an emphatic victory in the fourth game of the ongoing Champions Trophy 2017 against arch-rivals Pakistan and kick-started their campaign with a bang. They registered a comprehensive 124-run victory (D/L) method in a rain-curtailed match at Edgbaston on Sunday. With this win, India have now levelled their head-to-head record against Pakistan in the history of Champions Trophy 2017. India have now beaten Pakistan in two encounters out of four in the ICC Champions Trophy since its inception in 1998.
Although Pakistan had a huge mental barrier ahead of them coming in this game but the numbers were in their favour. Prior to this tournament, Pakistan had beaten India twice in three games. A number of reasons hampered Pakistan’s run including poor strategy, awful fielding, and execution of the plan. India are the defending champions in the tournament and undoubtedly one of the favourites to defend this one. Pakistan needed ti bring their A game out in order to beat India, which they failed to do. Eventually, India turned out to be too hot and registered yet another emphatic victory. India have now won 13 out of 15 games against Pakistan in ICC tournaments.
The pressure of an India-Pakistan game is huge and players certainly undergo a lot of stress. And this game was no different, but it seems that the Indian side absorbed it well and performed well to have an astounding victory to their name. Pakistan won the toss and elected to field first. Pakistan have not been a good chasing side and have a solid bowling attack as their primary weapon. They could have backed their bowling and opted to defend but with rain mounting over Edgbaston they opted to go for the chase as the Ducksworth-Lewis method would come into play. Who knows what the scenario of the game would have been had Pakistan opted to bat first and get runs on the game.
Junaid Khan has been a force to reckon but was rested for this high-voltage encounter. One may argue saying, Pakistan already had two left-arm pacers in the line-up and Hassan Ali has been terrific with the ball but Junaid Khan looked good with the ball in the warm-up game against Bangladesh. Pakistan could have gambled with this spot as India did with Mohammed Shami. Junaid has looked good in the recent times and would have made some difference, to say the least. Again, the selection of Wahab Riaz did not make any sense at all.
— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) June 4, 2017
Coming back to the match, Mohammad Amir delivered a solid first over, where he bowled a maiden to Rohit Sharma and often beat the outside edge. He wasn’t getting a lot of swing but had some assistance to create enough doubts in the mind of the batsman. Pakistan could have opted to pout additional pressure from the other end but instead went defensive and threw the ball to spinner Imad Wasim. The left-arm spinner failed to chip a wicket and spin from one end gave enough time to the Indian batsmen to settle. When Amir was troubling Rohit Sharma with the new ball it was certain that the other seamer would have also done the same and probably get an early wicket.
— Gaurav Varmani 🇮🇳 (@gauravvarmani) June 5, 2017
Amir bowled just four overs with the new ball and was brought back very late into the innings. He is undoubtedly Pakistan’s wicket-taking option and leader of the pace attack and was brought back into the attack in the 30th over when India were well placed at 161 for 1.
The battle between Virat Kohli and Amir was one of the most spoken battles prior to the match. By the timeAmirr came in to put the hard yards, Kohli had already played 16 deliveries and had his eyes settled in. Pakistan were also sloppy in the field and dropped important catches. There is an old saying in cricket- catches win matches, but Pakistan’s ordinary fielding hampered their run. India were struggling to accelerate despite having wickets in hand, Kohli was finding it difficult to shift gears and needed a move on.
— Adam Gilchrist (@gilly381) June 4, 2017
Yuvraj Singh walked in at four and was dropped early on in the innings. Yuvraj played a crucial cameo of 53 from 32 deliveries and provided the much-needed impetus to India’s innings. He capitalised on the life and made an immediate impact. And then, Hardik Pandya’s telling blows shattered Pakistan’s confidence. India posted a challenging total in 48 overs and to chase the revised total due to rain later on, Pakistan needed to exhibit a lot character.
Meanwhile, Sarfraz Ahmed as a captain surprised many with poor field settings and bowling changes. In West Indies, he gave the impression of an attacking and thinking captain, but at Edgbaston, he was at his worst and what made him remain defensive by trying to stop the flow of runs rather than searching for wickets remains a moot question. Be it in a Test or 50-over format, a defensive mindset can never bring anything good.
Pakistan’s reply was dull and kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and eventually succumbed to 164. After a solid start, their middle-order collapsed dramatically, which didn’t let them put up a fight. Barring Shoaib Malik, none of their batsmen had a strike-rate of above 100 while chasing a target, which had a required run-rate of above 6 right from the start. Batsmen like Ahmed Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez were seen struggling to time the ball well and hit hard when the asking run rate escalated. It was surprising to see the hierarchy of Pakistan cricket still thinking about change with players who have been failed customers in recent times and one cannot expect to turn things around by investing faith in them time and again.
Pakistan’s batting was more about trying to lose as early as possible and rush into the hotel room as early as possible rather than showing some fight. They digested a heavy defeat and when you enter into the field with a negative mindset, you cannot win at all.
As of now, India have the momentum going with them and will be the team to beat henceforth. Pakistan, on the other hand, have a mountain to climb after a defeat and need to bring their best game out in order to remain alive in the tournament.