Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma
Shikhar Dhawan (L) and Rohit Sharma

Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma struck dominating centuries as India completed a double over Pakistan to register their second win of the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup 2018 on Sunday. At the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, India sailed to a nine-wicket win, chasing down 238 in 39.3 overs.

This is India’s biggest win over Pakistan in terms of wickets as they sealed their place in the final.

The pair added a record 210 runs between them before being separated which is the highest by an opening pair for India in chases. Dhawan was the first to reach three figures – with a four – his 15th of ODI career. He was run out on 114 when going for an unnecessary quick single. Rohit reached his century – 19th of ODI career during a knock that began sedately but blossomed as the innings progressed.

He was the beneficiary of two dropped catches – once on 14 and the second on 81 with Pakistan putting up a listless performance with the ball and on the field.

Not once during their respective innings did the duo seemed to have been tested by Pakistan bowlers. The frontline pacers were punished when erring in length. Short balls were authoritatively pulled four boundaries, full were driven with disdain. Such was the dominance of the Indian batsmen that Sarfraz Ahmed, the Pakistan captain, must have regretted to defend on a pitch he expected will test batsmen under the lights.

While Dhawan was eager to play his shots from ball one, Rohit observed caution. The left-hander opened his account with a triple off the first ball faced then through covers, creamed his first four of the night. He would hit 16 of them apart from two sixes during a 100-ball stay that flattened Pakistan.

Rohit, though, stayed quiet for some time before Hasan Ali dropped one short which the Indian pulled over square leg region to free his arms. A six followed in the next over of Shaheen Afridi and there was no stopping him afterwards. Rohit struck went on to hit his 19th ODI century and remained unbeaten to see them through the chase, hitting seven fours and four sixes. During his stay, he also completed 7000 runs in ODIs.

While it was one-way traffic during India innings, the momentum shifted multiple times when Pakistan were batting.Shoaib Malik top-scored with 78, hitting a second consecutive century, but India restricted Pakistan to 237/7.

They began slowly with the opening pair of Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq looking determined to eke it out against an Indian attack that got rid of them inside five overs the last time they clashed during the tournament. However, just when it looked the duo had settled in, Yuzvendra Chahal trapped Imam lbw on 10. The umpire had initially turned down the appeal but MS Dhoni nodded his captain Rohit to take the review and the decision was overturned.

Zaman, who registered consecutive ducks in his last two matches, slogged it out before opening up with a six and a four off Kuldeep Yadav. However, as he lined up for sweep, he lost his balance and slipped, resulting in him being adjudged lbw on 31. He opted against the review but as replays later showed, the ball may have brushed his glove before hitting the pad.

A mix-up involving Sarfraz Ahmed and Babar Azam resulted in the latter being run-out on 9. Pakistan were struggling at 58/3 when Shoaib Malik walked in.

Against Afghanistan, during a stiff chase, Malik revealed his aim was to bat till the end. He followed that template in Dubai too. Riding the nervy phase, in the company of Sarfraz, he first took Pakistan to three figures in 27.1 overs. And then in the same over, broke the shackles with six over deep-midwicket.

A drive and cut off Kedar Jadhav for two fours from Malik were enough for Rohit to pull him out of the attack. Malik went on to complete his half-century off 64 deliveries – his second straight of the tournament and 43rd in ODIs.

Soon the duo raised a century stand and looked in prime position to lead a late flurry. A six off Jadeja from Malik signalled a shift in gears. However, Sarfarz, looking to up the ante, holed out at extra cover on 44 off Kuldeep.

New man Asif Ali then clobbered a two sixes and a four off a Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s over. Pakistan creamed 22 runs from the over. With the momentum firmly in the opponent’s favour, Jasprit Bumrah was brought back into the attack and he struck with the big wicket of Malik, out caught behind on 78.

India managed to pull things back in the final overs with Chahal cleaning up dangerman Asif on 30. Bumrah bowled brilliantly to ensure Pakistan were kept below 250 as he finished with figures of 2/29 in his 10 overs.

Brief Scores: India 238/1 (Shikhar Dhawan 114, Rohit Sharma 111*) beat Pakistan 237/7 (Shoaib Malik 78, Sarfraz Ahmed 44; Jasprit Bumrah 2/29) by nine wickets