Asia Cup Super Four 3rd Match: Dhawan, Rohit power India past Pakistan

Shikhar Dhawan 114 India Pakistan Asia Cup Super Four cricket

Shikhar Dhawan celebrates after bringing up his 15th ODI hundred

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Pakistan’s hopes of avenging their loss to India in the group stage of the Asia Cup were crushed as opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and captain Rohit Sharma both scored centuries to lead the men in blue to a convincing nine-wicket win.

With their victory over their arch-rivals, India have virtually booked their spot in the final of the tournament.

In addition to this, India’s margin of victory was their largest in terms of wickets against Pakistan.

Electing to bat first, Pakistan made a disappointing start to their innings as opener Imam-ul-Haq was trapped lbw off the bowling of Yuzvendra Chahal for 10 runs.

Imam was not given out initially, but Rohit called for a review, which worked in India’s favour as replays showed that the ball was pitching in line and going on to hit the top of middle and leg.

Fakhar Zaman, who opened the batting with Imam, managed to score 31 before he was given out lbw off the bowling of Kuldeep Yadav.

Babar Azam was run out by Chahal for nine runs, but Shoaib Malik and Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed stabilised the innings with a 107-run partnership, during which Malik surpassed his half-century.

Shoaib Malik 78 India Pakistan Asia Cup Super Four cricket

Shoaib Malik scored his 43rd half-century in ODI cricket

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

With Pakistan beginning to claw their way back into the game, Kuldeep provided the breakthrough India needed as Sarfraz was caught by Rohit at cover for 44.

Malik went on to make 78, which came off 90 balls and included four boundaries and two sixes, before he was caught behind off the bowling of Jasprit Bumrah.

Asif Ali made a 21-ball 30 before he was cleaned up by Chahal, while Shadab Khan made 10 before being clean bowled by Bumrah.

With Mohammad Nawaz scoring an unbeaten 15 towards the end of the innings, Pakistan finished on 237/7.

Chahal, Kuldeep and Bumrah picked up two wickets apiece.

Chasing 238 to win, Rohit and Dhawan nearly finished things by themselves as they forged a breathtaking and record-breaking 210-run partnership, during which Dhawan brought up his hundred.

Rohit and Dhawan’s stand was the highest opening partnership for India when chasing, and also the highest opening stand against Pakistan. In addition to this, it was India’s largest opening partnership in Asia Cup history.

It was a mix-up between Rohit and Dhawan that led to the latter being run out by Hasan Ali for 114, which came off 100 balls and included 16 boundaries and two sixes.

Despite the loss of Dhawan, Rohit and Ambati Rayudu mopped up the remaining runs to lead India to victory with 63 balls to spare.

Rohit ended up making an unbeaten 111, which came off 119 deliveries and included seven boundaries and four sixes.

Rohit Sharma 111 not out India Pakistan Asia Cup Super Four cricket

Rohit Sharma soaks in the moment after scoring his 19th ODI century

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

During his innings, Rohit became the fifth-fastest player to accumulate 7,000 ODI runs.

Sarfraz was less than impressed with his side’s performance, and said: “Tough game, we did well with the bat, but 20-30 runs short. But if we keep dropping catches, we won’t win games. We’ve done hard work at fielding. So I’m not sure what’s going wrong. I thought the pitch was difficult to bat on, that it would be hard for a new batsman to start here and for that reason we should have held on to our catches.

“They had set batsmen to do the job. We’re trying to get early wickets, we’re talking with the bowlers, and when we don’t get them, with batsmen like Rohit and Dhawan, it’s hard to come back. Their skill-level is high, ours is not quite there, but by the final, we’ll get better. It’s a do-or-die match for us in the next game, we’ll do our best.”

Rohit was delighted to have won, and said: “We asked something like this from the boys. It was challenging conditions, and it was tough coming out and playing in these conditions. All of them showed great character. We spoke about leaving our past performances in the past and doing the job again today and they did it.

“Bumrah has matured as a bowler now, has played a great amount of cricket and he understands his bowling. It’s very important for any player. He understands what fields he needs to set and on a wicket like that you need to be clever, keep it tight, keep up pressure. Bhuvneshwar too did exactly the same. We never wanted to let them off the hook and our spinners have been magnificent throughout the tournament. They kept taking wickets and when you do that, you win.

“It was a challenge when Hardik got injured. We were playing four spinners including Jadhav. We wondered about going with three seamers, but knowing these conditions, we went with the spinners and they have been great. Jadeja too, to come back into the side and do so well.

“Opening with Dhawan is, I don’t even need to speak to him, it’s important to let him be and we’ve batted enough to understand each other’s games. We know how important the first 10 overs is. The chase becomes a little easier if that’s done well. The most important thing was to bat as long as possible and that’s what we did. Nothing is easy [hitting sixes] and when it comes off it looks nice. I’ve gotten out playing those shots but its important to put pressure on the bowlers. Pakistan have a great bowling line-up and it’s important to keep them under pressure. They’ve troubled us in the past.”

Dhawan was named Man of the Match, and said: “I enjoyed my game. I’ve been in good touch and just wanted to make the most of it. It’s a good batting track and I enjoyed the way I was batting. It was sensible and aggressive and I enjoyed the balance. Pakistan have a good bowling attack. I knew that as openers we have to stay in. So once I got set, I just carried on and as I said, I was sensible and I didn’t want to throw away my wicket.

“Once you’re set, once you’ve played 20 overs, it gets easier. It’s the job for openers, play out the new ball, and that’s the opposition’s strength. We don’t get runs that easily in the first 15 overs but Rohit played an amazing knock again, he’s very good at converting to centuries. So it’s good that we both value our wickets. We know that we don’t get these conditions often and we wanted to take advantage of it.”

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