Image courtesy of: India Today
Ul-Haq was given a frosty reception at the post-match presentation ceremony
Edgbaston was the place to be on June 15 as arch-rivals India and Pakistan squared off against each other in a highly anticipated match.
India had already earned themselves a semi-finals spot, while Pakistan were looking to regain some pride after being humbled in both their previous matches against the West Indies and South Africa.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to bowl first due to the rainy conditions.
With the match shortened to 40 overs a side, Dhoni would have been thanking his lucky stars for winning the toss as his decision looked to be the right one as opener Nasir Jamshed departed just 15 balls into Pakistan’s innings.
Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez both got starts, but were dismissed when they entered the twenties.
Asad Shafiq held the Pakistan innings together as the wickets continued to tumble around him.
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq could not work his magic this time as he was sent back to the pavilion after having been clean bowled by spinner Ravindra Jadeja for 22.
Ul-Haq had been Pakistan’s best batsman by far over the last two games, registering half-centuries in both matches.
Eventually, even Shafiq caved in to the pressure of the Indian bowling attack as he fell nine short of what would have been an excellent half-century.
Umar Amin provided Pakistan with a last minute push as his 27 runs off 26 balls helped Pakistan reach 165 before they were bowled out with two balls to spare.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja all played a crucial role, taking two wickets apiece to hinder Pakistan’s innings and leave them with an under par score to defend.
India’s innings was constantly disrupted by the rain and it was finally reduced down to 22 overs, which meant that the men in blue needed 102 runs to claim victory in the battle of the arch-rivals.
India openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma registered a pivotal 58-run partnership to give the team a boost in the right direction.
Dhawan looked to be possessed by the moment as he raced towards his half-century, but unfortunately fell just two agonising runs short of the milestone.
Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik played well together and ended up taking India to a convincing win over their arch-rivals.
Kohli remained unbeaten on 22, while Karthik was on 11 as India finished off the match with just under three overs to spare.
Saeed Ajmal and Wahab Riaz were the only two Pakistani bowlers to take a wicket as the rest of them toiled endlessly, but to no avail.
Ul-Haq was booed by the crowd as he made his way to the podium for the post-match presentation ceremony.
“Disappointing performance again with the bat, the weather also played a part, difficult to get in and out so many times,” the Pakistan captain said. “In this sort of format, it is too short for the teams because you have one bad day at the start of the tournament, you are almost out of it. I think the bowling did okay for us, the way they are establishing themselves, really a plus for Pakistan.”
Ul-Haq was also asked if he enjoyed the tournament, to which he simply replied: “Not much.”
The ovation for Dhoni was quite the opposite that ul-Haq got and the Indian captain praised his team and the fans for their undying support.
“The fan support has always been there, no matter where we play,” Dhoni said. “The whole team is doing really well, in all the three departments. We are the top fielding side in world cricket as of now, we need to keep the intensity up. Bhuvneshwar bowls very good areas, and can swing the ball, he’s someone who has given us the early breakthroughs, good to see him bowl well.”
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was named as the Man of the Match for his bowling figures of eight overs, 19 runs and two wickets.
“There was a bit of bounce in the wicket, wasn’t really nervous because it was Pakistan, but do feel nervous whichever game you play,” he said.