A clinical display from India helped register their 6th win over Pakistan in World Cups. Virat Kohli led the way with a fine century for the defending champions as they completed a comfortable 76-run win over their arch-rivals.
The high-voltage clash failed to live up to its expectations, leaving fans disappointed as Pakistan played no part in making this match a memorable affair.
Pakistan will have to go back to the drawing board, while the Indians will be relieved to begin their title defense with a win.
However, what appeared to be a routine win for the Men in Blue, comprised several positives that would help them as they progress in the tournament.
Here, we will highlight four key takeaways for India after their dominating performance against Pakistan
Running between the wickets
After the dismissal of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli joined Shikhar Dhawan out in the middle. The duo put on a solid partnership to set up the perfect platform for the likes of Suresh Raina to accelerate later. The duo scored risk-free runs and kept the scoreboard ticking without any problems. The Delhi lads ran brilliantly between the wickets converting ones into twos and twos into threes. By doing so, they kept the pressure building on Pakistani bowlers without playing expansive shots. Though Dhawan was eventually run out after a mix-up with Kohli, their running between the wickets was exceptional.
Key batsmen spending time in the middle
After a disastrous tri-series where India lost two matches to England and one to Australia, the team management would be relieved to see their top-order firing again. Rohit Sharma missed out against Pakistan, but he was the only batsman to score a century in that tri-series. Hence it was important for others like Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli to get runs under their belt moving ahead into this tournament. Suresh Raina, a key member of the team, too was back to his best playing a crucial knock. The only player who now needs the comfort of some runs is skipper MS Dhoni.
Improved outing for bowlers
India’s bowlers have come under severe criticism from every quarter for their poor showing in the Test and ODI tri-series in Australia. Former players and experts have termed India’s bowling attack as one of the weakest at the World Cup. However, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami ran in hard and bowled consistently at good speeds. All of India’s bowlers, especially the pacers, maintained their intensity throughout the match. Mohit Sharma too did his reputation no harm by putting in a solid shift. This performance will come as a huge relief for the management as the bowlers finally picked up 10 opposition wickets. Heartening would be an accurate word to describe the bowling effort from India’s bowlers.
MS Dhoni’s mixed show
It is no secret that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an ODI legend. After his retirement from Test cricket, he has relatively less responsibility on his shoulders. However, coming into the tournament, Dhoni has not been in great form. For India to go deep into the tournament, their skipper needs to have a good show with the willow. Dhoni’s captaincy was flawless against Pakistan. He consistently attacked their batsmen and his tactics were aggressive throughout the match. Unfortunately, he failed with the bat yet again. Indian fans would be hoping he turns it on when it matters most like the 2011 World Cup, where he had a poor tournament before making amends with that historic knock in the final against Sri Lanka.
It would be premature to plant the tag of ‘favorites’ on India on the back of this showing. Also, using the Pakistani batsmen as barometer to gauge the Indian bowling performance would be inaccurate. The true test of their mettle will come in the next match against South Africa. However, the Indians have now got back up on their feet after the mighty fall they suffered in the demoralizing tour Down Under.