IND vs PAK: Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma shine before rain intervenes – trending

  • September 10, 2023

Jasprit Bumrah’s wait to bowl full tilt in an ODI since last year’s back injury stretched another day after stubborn Colombo rain washed out the Asia Cup Super 4 match between India and Pakistan at the R Premadasa Stadium on Sunday. India were 147/2 in 24.1 overs when rain held up the game, and it was eventually postponed to the reserve day on Monday by a shower just when the ground staff had almost got the turf ready for a shortened match. Play will resume at 3 pm local time on Monday though rain will be expected to play spoilsport again. This also means that India will have less than 24 hours before their next Super 4 match against Sri Lanka on Tuesday.

Rohit Sharma raises his bat as he completes his half-century(ANI )

Openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill gave India a rollicking start, putting on 121 for the first wicket. They were dismissed in consecutive overs but the platform had been laid for Virat Kohli and KL Rahul — playing his first game since May— to consolidate. That Rahul would make a comeback to competitive cricket on Sunday was conveyed in no uncertain manner well before the tournament had begun. But with Ishan Kishan playing a solid hand in the group match against Pakistan, it would have been deemed unfair had he been asked to make way for Rahul. That problem however sorted itself out when Shreyas Iyer — India’s designated No.4 — complained of back spasm while warming up for the match. Iyer made way for Rahul but Kishan was designated the wicketkeeping position, abundantly making clear that the management were still not keen on pushing Rahul.

The batter Rahul, however, showed no signs of rust when he got on top of a Shaheen Afridi short ball and pulled it through midwicket for a majestic boundary. Another boundary, this time off a 147 kph screamer from Haris Rauf, and Rahul was looking every bit the middle-order enforcer India envision him to be when the momentum is in their favour. Kohli was slow off the blocks but that didn’t affect the innings as India were scoring at more than six an over when rain caught the ground staff by surprise. By then, however, Rahul had completed 2000 ODI runs, reaching the feat in 53 innings. Shikhar Dhawan is the fastest to this landmark, having achieved it in just 48 innings.

If opening was one box that hadn’t been checked in the previous game against Pakistan, Sharma and Gill ensured they got that right this time. Afridi was all swing, shape and a bit of pace with an encouraging start of five dot balls but Sharma wasn’t ready to concede a maiden. Pitching the sixth ball fuller, Afridi was probably probing for an edge but Sharma flicked him over deep backward square leg for a six. Next over, Sharma drove Naseem Shah through extra cover for a boundary and India were off to a confident start.

To wrest the momentum, India had to blunt Afridi first. This time, Gill was more than up to the job as he first glanced him towards fine leg for a boundary before charging down the ground and flicking Afridi over mid-wicket. Two balls later, Gill leaned into a drive past mid-off to score the third boundary of Afridi’s over. If that onslaught took Afridi by surprise, the next assault knocked the wind out of his sails as Gill again took three boundaries off him, through mid-on before twice cutting through the covers.

This is where Sharma took the backseat as Pakistan pulled Afridi out of the attack and deployed Faheem Ashraf and Rauf, both of whom were being ably handled by Gill. But Sharma quickly joined the attack with the introduction of Shadab Khan’s leg-break bowling in the 13th over. Sharma pushed him for a single before rocking back and pulling over midwicket for a six. Next ball, another six, this time deeper into the stands. By the time Sharma was done with Shadab, 19 runs had been taken off that over. By the 15th over, India were nearly going at a run rate of eight.

The first drinks break may have caused attention to waver as Pakistan caught a break in the first over after that when Sharma couldn’t get enough distance behind his lofted shot, holing out to Ashraf who sprinted to his left at long-off to complete a difficult catch. Gill fell in the next over, checking his drive at the last second against a slower ball from Afridi and getting caught by Agha Salman who didn’t have to move an inch at cover.

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