CHAMPIONS TROPHY: Clinical India trounce Pakistan

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SUMMARY: India 319 for 3 (Rohit 91, Kohli 81*, Dhawan 68, Yuvraj 53) beat Pakistan 164 (Azhar 50, Umesh 3-30) by 124 runs (DLS method)

An unbeaten 81 from captain Virat Kohli helped steer India to a comprehensive 124-run victory over Pakistan in the opening match of their Champions Trophy campaign at Edgbaston.

Kohli’s big hitting – allied to a more patient 91 from opener Rohit Sharma and a blistering half-century from Yuvraj Singh – saw India post a daunting 319-3 from their rain-reduced 48 overs.

Pakistan, chasing a DLS-revised target of 289 off 41 overs, lost wickets at regular intervals, with only Azhar Ali threatening a substantial score. The result leaves India level on points with South Africa at the top of Group B, with their second of three group matches against Sri Lanka on Thursday.

Pakistan meet South Africa in Birmingham on Wednesday, their struggle to 164 all out underlining how much they will have to improve to make the semi-finals. It was a disappointingly, one-sided ending to a match which is regarded by many as the ‘biggest in sport.’ India now have seven successive wins against their rivals in ICC tournaments.

Umesh Yadav led India’s bowling effort

With 10 overs of their innings to go, India were 202-2, becalmed by smart bowling and two rain delays in quick succession.

But with Pakistan losing bowlers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz to injury and two straightforward catches going down, the India dream team of Kohli and Yuvraj were able to pile on the runs in stirring fashion.

Yuvraj, dropped badly on eight by Hasan Ali, accelerated to his half-century off just 29 balls, pulling one six from the top of off stump over deep mid-wicket and clubbing eight fours from the denuded attack.

When he fell for 53, Kohli and Hardik Pandya took over, the India captain pulling Hasan over long-on for one six and then driving the same bowler over deep extra cover for six more.

Kohli had been dropped himself on 43, but with a characteristic blend of power and panache went on to an unbeaten 81 garlanded by six fours and three sixes.

A massive 89 runs came off the last 36 balls, 72 from the concluding four overs alone, Pandya hitting Imad Wasim for three consecutive sixes in the final over and Wahab hobbling off with figures of 0-87 off 8.4 overs, the most expensive in Champions Trophy history.

With all eight teams now having played one match, it is India who are unsurprisingly shaping up as the most potent threat to pre-tournament favourites England.

With power-hitters throughout the team and a bowling attack that never allowed Pakistan a realistic chance, they seldom looked in trouble on the ground where they won the trophy four years ago.

Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm spin accounted for Azhar on 50 and Mohammad Hafeez for 33, while his direct hit from backward point ran out Pakistan’s other big hope Shoaib Malik for just 15.

The accuracy of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and pace of Umesh Yadav had tied Pakistan down early, with the unorthodox Jasprit Bumrah also economical on a pitch that had offered little during India’s innings.

While their fielding was sometimes sloppy, the final margin was authoritative, a much-anticipated contest meandering to a close in the most one-sided fashion. (BBC Sport)

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