As a team we are heading in the right direction, says Rohit

Manchester: It was another clinical performance by India as the men-in-blue inflicted a humiliating 89-run defeat against their arch-rivals Pakistan in Manchester, Sunday.

Rohit Sharma produced an elegant hundred before Kuldeep Yadav flummoxed the Pakistani batsmen as India’s unbeaten streak against Pakistan in World Cups continued.

Chasing a stiff 337-run target, Pakistan were already down and out when rain stopped play after 35 overs. They had managed just 166 runs for the loss of six wickets, nowhere near the DLS par-score of 252. When play resumed, the match was reduced to 40 overs with a revised target of 302, which meant that Pakistan required 136 runs from five overs. Imad Wasim (46) and Shadab Khan (20) remained unbeaten to end at 212 for six, handing India a comprehensive victory via Duckworth Lewis method.

Batting first, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul got India off to a good start, particularly Rohit was at his best scoring 140 off just 113 balls. He was adjudged the Man of the match, speaking after the match, he said, “I think as a team we’re heading in the right direction. For us, it is important to just keep ticking all the boxes, and I think, as a team, we have done that most of the time.”

Rohit also said that he is enjoying this phase of life after becoming a father. “It’s a very good phase in my life. Having a daughter in my life actually has put me in a good space. So, yeah, I think I’m enjoying my cricket,”
“The last two days we were here, the pitch was under the covers, and it was a little soft when we started. When the conditions are like that, it becomes more of a new ball game and then the opposition can put pressure if you lose a few wickets,” he said.

His captain had termed Rohit’s hundred against South Africa as his best ODI innings. So when asked where he would rate his match-winning effort against Pakistan, Rohit responded nonchalantly. “I’m sure if I get 100 in another game, you’ll ask me the same question. I don’t know. It’s hard to put any knock on the top because all those knocks you play for your country are very, very important,” he said.

Against Pakistan, Rohit scored 30 runs through cuts and 28 through pull shots which included seven fours and three sixes. Was he pleasantly surprised that Pakistan bowlers, especially Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz, bowled short and wide to him? “I don’t know what happens in their team meeting, whether it’s to bowl up (fuller) or bowl short. The first 10 overs, they bowled pretty well. Of course, we know in England, once you are in, it’s very hard for the bowlers to come back, and there’s not enough room for error. That is pretty simple,” said the second highest aggregator in the competition (319 runs) behind Aaron Finch (343 runs).

The best response to a question was the one with which he signed off. A Pakistani journalist asked, what would be his advice for Pakistan team which is in a crisis situation, he said: “Jab main Pakistan team ka coach banoonga tab jawab doonga (I will answer when I become Pakistan coach).”

‘Bhuvneshwar ruled out of next 2-3 games’

India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been ruled out of at least the next two World Cup games after picking up a hamstring niggle during the clash against Pakistan.

The paceman walked off the field without completing his third over and India skipper Virat Kohli confirmed that he will be replaced by Mohammed Shami in the following games.

“Slight niggle (in his left hamstring) for Bhuvi, he slipped on one of the footmarks. He’s out for two, maybe three games, but he should come back for us at some stage during this tournament.  He is very important for us,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

It is another big jolt for India after opener Shikhar Dhawan suffered a thumb injury while batting against Australia, ruling him out for at least couple of weeks. India’s next three games are against Afghanistan (22 June), West Indies (27 June) and England (30 June).

Fastest to 11k runs

Adding yet another feather to his already decorated cap, India skipper Virat Kohli became the fastest cricketer to reach 11,000 runs in One-day internationals, breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s 17 year-old record. Tendulkar had taken 276 innings while Kohli took just 222 innings to join the elite list of players. Kohli is the third Indian to enter the 11,000 club after Tendulkar and Ganguly and ninth player in the world to enter the elite list.

Dream WC debut

Vijay Shankar becomes only the third bowler to take a wicket of his very first World Cup delivery. After being asked to bowl immediately after Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s injury, the medium pacer dismissed Imam-ul-Haq, trapping him LBW to achieve the feat.