More than their skill, it was the patience of players on either side that was tested in cold, windy and wet Birmingham on Saturday. As many as four rain interruptions resulted in a stop-start affair that saw Pakistan's innings reduced to 40 and India's target thrice revised, and by the time India overhauled a Duckworth/Lewis target of 102 in the 20th over there were far fewer spectators present than when the match began under clearer skies.
Rain was always on the cards, but what panned out was hardly befitting of a marquee clash between two fierce rivals that resulted in a packed Edgbaston, never mind that the match was a dead rubber in terms of consequence on the ICC Champions Trophy. Adding to the overall sense of gloom was Pakistan's insipid performance that meant they were winless in the tournament.
Pakistan's feeble batting was the reason for their elimination earlier in the week and this sorry trend continued. Their innings - there were two delays due to rain - ended at 165 in 39.4 overs after disciplined bowling from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin, coupled with some smart usage of the DRS, set the tone for India's dominance. Set a revised D/L target of 168 in 40 overs, which became 157 in 36 and then 102 in 22, India won by eight wickets with 17 balls remaining to make it three wins in a row and avoid a hat-trick of losses to Pakistan in the tournament.
MS Dhoni's decision to field with an unchanged side was influenced by the fact that rain was forecast for later in the day, and it was vindicated by a tidy effort from his chief wicket-takers. Nasir Jamshed has been one of just two batsmen in the runs in England - the second being the captain, Misbah-ul-Haq - and came into this match averaging 135.33 against India but failed to make an impression. Having been relieved by a review against an lbw decision by umpire Richard Kettleborough off Umesh Yadav's first ball, Jamshed fell for 2 when he nicked Bhuvneshwar to second slip (4 for 1).
It took Pakistan 35 deliveries to find the boundary, and then they hit four in five balls: Mohammad Hafeez elegantly drove Yadav past extra cover and then pulled the next between midwicket and square leg; first ball of the next over, Akmal slammed Bhuvneshwar past square leg and after a single, Hafeez squirted an under edge to the fine leg boundary. What Bhuvneshwar conceded in his first six overs Ishant Sharma leaked in his first 12 balls as Pakistan sensed a weak link and gathered momentum. They took 43 for 1 off the Powerplay, 16 of which came off Ishant.
With Pakistan 50 for 1 in 12 overs, play was halted for 15 minutes due to a brief shower. Though the ground did not soak in much water during that brief interruption, Pakistan's batsmen came out rather soaked. Immediately after the delay Hafeez (27) nibbled Bhuvneshwar to a diving Dhoni and moments later Akmal (21) heaved at Ashwin's seventh delivery and was held by Virat Kohli at leg slip after the edge rebounded off Dhoni's thigh. It was palpable which side had been adversely effected by the holdup in play.
Rain returned again after 19 overs, with Pakistan 70 for 3, and this break lasted just over two-and-half-hours. As with the first rain delay, it was Pakistan who struggled to force the pace after the gap.
Misbah and Asad Shafiq took the score past 100 in the 26th over and snapped a 39-ball period without a boundary before Misbah (22) stabbed forward at an angled delivery from Jadeja and lost his leg stump. First ball of the 32nd over, Dhoni held another diving catch and asked for a review, which proved a brilliant decision because replays showed that Shafiq (41) had gotten the thinnest of edges down the leg side off Ishant.
From here, Jadeja and Ashwin checked the lower order. Pakistan lost Shoaib Malik (17) and Wahab Riaz (0) in the space of four balls to India's slow-bowling pair and the remaining batsmen failed to cash in on the batting Powerplay. The last three wickets fell in ten balls and Pakistan failed to bat out their 40 overs.
India's chase was first interrupted by rain for 20 minutes, one ball into the ninth over with the score 47 for 0, after which the target was revised. Moments after Rohit Sharma (18) fell chipping Ajmal to midwicket to end an opening stand of 58 in 10.4 overs, the players headed off again. When they returned, India needed 39 runs in 63 balls. That they achieved that owed largely to the in-form Shikhar Dhawan.
As against South Africa in Cardiff, Dhawan was given room outside off stump and made Pakistan pay. Each of his five boundaries came on the offside and he ticked along at over a run-a-ball until he fell uppercutting Riaz to third man for 48 off 41 balls. The remaining 24 runs needed were whittled away by Kohli (22*) and Dinesh Karthik (11*).
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