India captain Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh made Pakistan pay for fluffing catches as they each struck quickfire fifties as the title holders hit 319 for three in their Champions Trophy opener at Edgbaston on Sunday.
Kohli, who on Saturday had dismissed reports of a rift with India coach Anil Kumble, was equally contemptuous of Pakistan’s attack during a blistering innings of 81 not out off just 68 balls that included six fours and three sixes.
Left-hander Yuvraj smashed a rapid 53 while helping Kohli add 93 for the third wicket in a mere 59 deliveries.
That was not the end of the run spree, with Hardik Pandya hitting the first three balls of left-arm spinner Imad Wasim’s last over of the innings for six on his way to an unbeaten 20.
In a match reduced to 48 overs per side after rain interruptions, Pakistan were left needing a revised target of 324 to win.
Rohit Sharma (91) and Shikhar Dhawan (68) laid the platform with an opening stand of 136 before Kohli and Yuvraj, to the delight of India fans in a capacity 25,000 crowd, teed off.
Mohammad Amir was the pick of Pakistan’s attack with none for 32 in 8.1 overs.
But fellow left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz was hugely expensive, his wicketless 8.4 overs costing 87 runs.
Wahab’s day was summed up when he was unable to complete his ninth over after falling awkwardly in his delivery stride.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss in what was the opening Group B match for both the arch-rivals in a tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day international teams.
India’s openers made an initially cautious start before they upped the tempo either side of a 50-minute rain break.
Sharma, however, was fortunate when, on 21, he edged Amir just beyond a diving Azhar Ali at slip for four.
Pakistan were donated a wicket, however, when Dhawan hoisted a full toss from teenage leg-spinner Shadab Khan straight to Azhar Ali at deep midwicket.
There were times when Pakistan’s bowlers, Wahab apart, maintained the disciplined line and length needed on a good batting pitch.
Sharma went 43 balls without a boundary before cover-driving and pulling Wahab for a four and a six off successive deliveries.
But in sight of what would have been his 11th ODI hundred, Rohit was run out when he just failed to beat Babar Azam’s throw to wicket-keeper Sarfraz after Kohli called him for a tight single.
It was the end of a 119-ball innings featuring two sixes and seven fours.
Yuvraj should have been out for eight but Hasan Ali, sliding round at long-on, dropped the two-handed catch off Shadab.
Hasan eventually had Yuvraj lbw on review but by then the damage had been done.
Kohli had made 43 when he was missed by substitute Fakhar Zaman, who got both hands to a top-edged hook off Wahab but could not hold on.
A blizzard of boundaries followed, with Kohli flat-batting Hasan down the ground for six to complete his fifty. – AFP