India were more ruthless than before and Pakistan were more helpless than in the last match, as Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan made a mincemeat of Pakistan’s bowling to win the Super Four game of the Asia Cup by nine wickets in Dubai on Sunday.
So dominant was the Indian batting and meagre was Pakistan’s target of 238 that India romped home for the loss of only one wicket with 63 balls in store. India are now virtually in the final, pending the result of the other match. If Bangladesh beat Afghanistan then India will be in the final to be played in Dubai on Friday.
Sharma notched 119-ball 111 not out for his 19th one-day hundred while Dhawan made 100-ball 114 for his eighth century as the pair put on 210 for the opening stand — second best in all India-Pakistan one-day internationals.
That super effort from the openers saw India overhaul the target with 10.3 overs to spare.
The Super four win is the second for India over arch-rivals following their easy eight-wicket win in the first round.
The win is India’s highest against Pakistan in terms of wickets, improving on the eight-wicket win over Pakistan in Melbourne in 1985.
Pakistan were steered to 237-7 by Shoaib Malik who made 90-ball 78 after winning the toss and batting but it proved too little for the strong Indian batting line.
Pakistan could have got Sharma out in the sixth over but Imam-ul-Haq dropped an easy catch off a luckless Shaheen Shah, giving the colourful Indian power to smash seven boundaries and four sixes.
Sharma, who scored back to back the fifties in the last two games, also became the ninth Indian batsmen to complete 7,000 one-day runs in his 187th match when he reached 94, soon after he was dropped on 81 by Fakhar Zaman off Shadab Khan.
Dhawan matches his skipper shot for shot, firing 100-ball 114 with 16 boundaries and two sixes as Pakistani bowlers had no clue to the rasping and flowing strokes of the Indian openers.
Pakistan’s pace spearhead Mohammad Amir, brought back in one of two changes after dropped for the Afghanistan match, went wicketless for the fifth match in a row, leaving the much vaunted Pakistan bowling biteless.
Even when Dhawan got out in the 34th over with 38 needed it was through a run-out.
The best opening stand in Indo-Pak one-day internationals was 224 Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed at Dhaka in 2012.
It was a better show by Pakistani batsmen, but not to an extent to bother India. Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq started slowly but confidently but once wicket started the fall the innings started to fall apart.
Imam was trapped leg-before by spinner Yuzvindra Chahal for ten while Fakar once again tried to sweep in a bizarre way, falling in his follow through. He should have reviewed the verdict of leg before but just like the last match he didn’t. It’s sad to see the talented player not having the knowledge of how and when to challenge an umpire’s decision.
Babar Azam was also ineptly run out after he was sent back by skipper Sarfraz Ahmed who initially ran for a single and then backed out. Babar did not have time to beat an accurate throw and was caught short at non-striker end.
It was left to Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz to repair the damage, they did build the innings but at a slow pace as Pakistan hoped to get the best of the last ten overs. But Sarfraz fell to a smart catch at mid-off while Malik edged to keeper MS Dhoni towards the leg side. Asif Ali too showed signs of scoring quick runs but after hitting two sixes off Bhuvneshwar Kumar he was cleaned up by Chahal.
Pakistan managed just 68 runs in the last ten overs and a target of 238 was never beyond a powerful Indian batting unit.