Though it was not a typical evening of fireworks, India’s comprehensive victory over arch-rivals Pakistan by 7 wickets at Motera gave Ahmedabadis and the rest of India the perfect reason to cheer. The pitch at the packed Narendra Modi stadium seemed tailor-made for India’s exploits and Pakistan, with all its best efforts, seemed at sea, ending up being a poor match for the top-notch Indian contingent.
Pakistan didn’t start off badly though. With 155 for just two wickets, and Babar and Rizwan at the crease, it never seemed that the team was staring at such impending doom that it could not even notch a double hundred on the board. But in an unprecedented collapse thereon, it lost eight wickets for just 36 runs, paving the way for India’s smooth sail.
Credit must go to the Indian bowlers for their precision and discipline that saw the whole Pakistan team back to the pavilion with just 191 runs to defend.
Hardik Pandya, Siraj, Bumrah, Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav – the best bowling battery of India had all their share of success in a rare lethal spell of spin and pace attack that rattled Pakistan. All the five had 2 wickets each.
But the real hero of the match has to be Rohit Sharma, who launched his trademark attack on Pakistan from the word go and sealed India’s victory in the first few overs itself. His blistering knock of 86 off just 63 balls was one of his best knocks and understandably, served as a death knell for the clueless Pakistani bowlers. Exuding supreme confidence in his fine form, the skipper literally led India from the front, hardly letting go of any delivery that could be hit, battering them to the best display of balance and finesse.
The Pakistani duo of Nawaz and Afridi did try to rein in Indian batters in the middle overs, giving the audience some juice out of the match, but eventually, it was undone by Shreyas Iyer with his gritty half-century.
Rohit also reached a personal milestone of being the Indian player with the highest-ever number of ODI sixes. Hitting the ball six times out of the ground in Ahmedabad, he ended up with 303 sixes, which puts him behind only two players on the all-time most sixes list.
What led to the Pakistani meltdown? Was it the pressure of performing before such a big crowd, with the daunting task of beating India in India? Or was it the pressure of India’s fierce batting and balling lineup that could devastate any team?
With two back-to-back wins behind them, what made them so resigned and out of their elements? The debates and speculations will go on, but one thing that none can deny is the perfect stage this win has set for the start of a happy Navratri season.