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Sarfraz Ahmed did the right thing by choosing to bowl; his side never had the firepower

Sarfraz Ahmed

Bengaluru, June 17: The much-anticipated India-Pakistan game at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 turned out to be an anti-climax as Virat Kohli's men thrashed the Greenshirts by 89 runs in Duckworth-Lewis-Stern Method.

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Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and sent India to bat and riding on Rohit Sharma's brilliant 140, India posted a big total of 336 for five in 50 overs.

In reply, Pakistan managed only 212 for six in 40 overs when their revised target was set to be 302.

It was Pakistan's seventh loss in as many games in the World Cup against India. Starting since 1992, India have beaten their arch-rivals seven times now and six of the have come batting first.

The Pakistani fans and former cricketers were terribly upset with the insipid show and former speedster Shoaib Akhtar even called Sarfraz a "brainless captain" in his post-match analysis.

Akhtar's main objection was against Sarfraz's winning the toss and electing to field first. It was the first time in an India-Pakistan game in the World Cup that a team won the toss and elected to bowl.

The plan was clear: Test the opponents under overcast conditions. But India's new opening pair of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul nullified the advantage that Pakistan were hoping for by putting up a century-run partnership. Pakistan put some brake in the final overs but yet a 330-plus target couldn't be averted.

Pakistan's only hope during the chase was the 100-plus run partnership between opener Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam, two of their best batsmen. Once a brilliant ball from Kuldeep Yadav broke that, it was a collapse for the Men in Green. The back-to-back dismissals of their two veterans, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, didn't help things either.

Even Kohli said he would have bowled

The result went against Pakistan but there was little doubt about Sarfraz's decision to bowl first. Even Kohli said after the toss that even he would have bowled first on that wicket. It is easy now to bash Sarfraz since he has lost but it is not fair to say that he took a wrong decision.

The difference between the two sides was just too wide to cover for the Pakistani outfit. It's only by name that India played Pakistan in that game. In reality, two highly uneven teams were playing the game of cricket at Old Trafford and the toss was irrelevant. Even if Pakistan had batted first, it would be difficult to predict that they would have scored 300-plus as India did. The Indian bowling line-up was far too superior compared to its Pakistani counterpart.

The Pakistani experts have kept on believing that their side would beat India primarily because they had comprehensively won the Champions Trophy final in 2017. But if one sees the last results of the last nine matches between the two sides, India have won seven of them (the other Pakistani win was by a narrow 1 wicket in Dhaka in Asia Cup 2014) which shows how much dominant they have been over their opponents of late. In the last Asia Cup in the UAE, India one-sidedly beat Pakistan in two matches and they didn't even have Virat Kohli.

Therefore, it would be better if the Pakistani experts have a realistic expectation from the current side led by Sarfraz and not bury it under an avalanche of false pride and hope. This is certainly one of Pakistan's worst sides in history and the country's cricket has a lot to do to catch up with their arch-rivals.

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Story first published: Monday, June 17, 2019, 11:14 [IST]
Other articles published on Jun 17, 2019
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