Ambati Rayudu scored 58 runs for India against Pakistan © AFP
By Shrikant Shankar
Mar 2, 2014
India have posted a total of 245 for eight against Pakistan in the sixth match of the Asia Cup 2014 at Mirpur. Rohit Sharma scored 56, while Ambati Rayudu scored 58. Ravindra Jadeja‘s late heroics helped India get to that competitive total. He scored an unbeaten 52 off 49 deliveries. He struck four fours and two sixes.
Saeed Ajmal took three wickets for 40 runs. Mohammad Talha and Mohammad Hafeez took two wickets each.
Earlier, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq had won the toss and elected to bowl first. This was the first match played at Mirpur in the Asia Cup. All the previous matches took place at Fatullah. Both India and Pakistan had comes into the match with one win and one loss each.
In a surprising decision, Msibah opened the bowling with off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez. Rohit got of the mark with a single off the first delivery in the match. Shikhar Dhawan then cut a wide delivery behind point to get of the mark and also the first four of the day. There were no surprises from the other end as fast-medium bowler Umar Gul came in.
Gul tested Rohit with a bouncer and he hooked the ball over deep backward square-leg for a six. Mohammad Hafeez bowled a good length delivery and Dhawan went back on his back-foot and played across the line. The ball hit the pads and the Pakistan players appealed. The umpire raised his finger and Dhawan had to depart for 10 off 13 deliveries. Replays showed that the ball might have just clipped the top of leg-stump.
That did not deter Rohit as he pulled a back of a length delivery from Junaid Khan over deep mid-wicket for his second and India’s six. Junaid then bowled one on the pads and Rohit flicked it away for a four past the short fine-leg fielder. Junaid then came from round the wicket and Rohit hit through the line over mid-off for a four. Rohit hit another four over over mid-off.
Just as it seemed like things could get better, Virat Kohli was dismissed for five off 11 deliveries. Gul dug one in short and it was close to Kohli. He tried to work it away on the off side, but edged it to Umar Akmal behind the wickets.
But Rohit kept his scoring rate up and quickly raced to his half-century. That was his 22nd half-century in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). But Rohit could not carry his form as pacer Mohammad Talha got him out for 56 off 58 deliveries. He bowled a bouncer and Rohit attempted another hook shot. He did not connect well and Hafeez took the catch running backwards at square-leg.
Rohit had struck seven fours and two sixes in his innings. Then India lost their fourth wicket quickly. Ajinkya Rahane pushed a length delivery from Talha to Hafeez at short mid-wicket. It was a simple catch and Rahane was dismissed for a laboured 23 off 50 deliveries. India had lost their top four for only 103 runs.
Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik then resurrected India’s innings with a calm partnership. The batsmen hardly played any risky shots as they scored at a moderate pace. The duo focused on the singles and twos rather than the big shots. It paid some dividend as they put up a 52-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Karthik had got a four through a slog-sweep and then repeated the shot against Hafeez. But the second time around Karthik hit it straight to Saeed Ajmal at short fine-leg. He was out for 23 off 46 deliveries. Jadeja then joined Rayudu. By this time, Rayudu had got a hang of the wicket as he came down the track and hit Shahid Afridi for a six over deep mid-wicket.
Rayudu got to his half-century as well. That was his second half-century in ODIs. Gul then bowled a full delivery and Jadeja smashed that straight back. Gul had to duck underneath it as it went for a four. Rayudu then tried to launch Ajmal over the top, but there wasn’t much distance in his shot. Substitute fielder Anwar Ali took the catch at long-on.
Jadeja kept his scoring at a high as he slog-swept Ajmal for a big six over wide long-on. He then reached his ninth half-century in ODIs during the innings. Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Shami were dismissed by Ajmal in the 49th over. That prevented India from going past the 250-run mark.
But another important fact is that Pakistan have not chased down a score of over 242 in ODIs since October 2012.
India 245 for 8 in 50 overs (Rohit Sharma 56, Ambati Rayudu 58, Ravindra Jadeja 52*; Saeed Ajmal 3 for 40, Mohammad Talha 2 for 22, Mohammad Hafeez 2 for 38) vs Pakistan.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)