India ride on all-round show to thrash Pakistan in ICC Champions Trophy opener

 

India took a tense build-up to their ICC Champions Trophy defence in their stride on Sunday by achieving their second-biggest One-day victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the opening Group B clash at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Skipper Virat Kohli led from the front and continued his dominance of Pakistan in the last few years with a brilliant, unbeaten 81 as defending champions India amassed 319/3, their second highest total in a tournament second in importance only to the World Cup. 

India completed a 124-run victory under the Duckworth-Lewis method for rain-hit matches after the game, initially reduced to 48-overs each was then curtailed to 41 overs. Pakistan, set a target of 289 runs in 41 overs, were reduced to 164/9 in 33.4 overs with injured fast bowler Wahab Riaz was unable to bat.

The comprehensive victory, coming after the coach-captain row, delighted thousands of Indian fans in the packed Edgbaston stadium and millions around the world. India, who enjoy a 6-0 win record against Pakistan in the World Cup, drew 2-2 against Pakistan in Champions Trophy contests.

Rohit Sharma top-scored with 91 and shared a 136-run partnership with Shikhar Dhawan (68) as the openers, whose success carried India to the 2013 triumph, reunited at the top in style.

Rohit Sharma was run out, missing out on a century. But Virat Kohli, who hit his first half-century against Pakistan to go with two centuries, took apart the Pakistan bowling with Yuvraj Singh (53), whose 29-ball half-century was India’s fastest in the tournament.

Virat Kohli also played match-winning knocks against Pakistan in the 2015 World Cup and 2016 World Twenty20

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to bat, hoping his pacers would exploit overcast conditions. Despite two rain breaks, the bowlers were left demoralised by the late assault by Kohli, Yuvraj and Hardik Pandya (20 off 6 balls).

Pakistan’s top pacers, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz went wicketless and hobbled off injured late in the India innings. Riaz went for 0/87 in 8.4 overs, the most expensive spell in Champions Trophy history.

Pakistan opener Azhar Ali hit 50, but the rest fell away with Umesh Yadav claiming 3/30 and Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja taking two wickets each. Yuvraj Singh was declared the Man-of-the-Match.

“With the bat and ball, we were right up there, I would say nine out of 10,” Virat Kohli said. “It was a very strong performance, we’ve taken the confidence from the practice games. We need to tighten our fielding to compete hard against the best teams.”

India next play Sri Lanka at the Oval on June 8.

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