press trust of india
BIRMINGHAM, 15 JUNE: Title favourites India produced yet another clinical performance as they outplayed arch-rivals Pakistan by eight wickets in a high-voltage group league encounter of the ICC Champions Trophy here today.
In a match marred by numerous rain-interruptions, Pakistan were bundled out for 165 in 39.4 overs due to a disciplined effort by the Indian bowling unit led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who finished with figures of two for 19.
India’s final revised target courtesy D/L method was 102 in 22 overs which they achieved with 17 balls to spare as Shikhar Dhawan again blazed his way to a 41-ball-48.
India thus finished their group league engagements with an all-win record.
Winning the ‘prestige battle’ against Pakistan will certainly be a big morale-booster for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men as they await their semi-final opponents whom they will take on in the second semi-final in Cardiff on 20 June.
The win was also India’s first in the Champions Trophy against Pakistan, having lost against the same opponents in the 2004 and 2009 editions of the tournament.
With the game frequently delayed by intermittent rain, India never lost sight of the target as the openers Dhawan and Rohit Sharma (18) again gave a solid start adding 58 runs for the opening stand.
On an Edgbaston wicket where the Pakistan new ball bowlers, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan, bent their back and extracted some pace and bounce, the batsmen looked quite at ease.
With rains looming on the horizon, the Indians were virtually racing along, scoring 45 in the mandatory powerplay of eight overs.
While Rohit was a bit subdued, Dhawan was in punishing mood, as he repeatedly peppered the off-side field. He twice slapped Junaid in the arc between point and extra-cover.
 Dhawan hit five boundaries and just when a half-century was there for the taking, the Delhi lad slashed hard at one from Wahab Riaz to be caught at the deep third-man boundary.
However, Virat Kohli (22 no) and Dinesh Karthik (11 no) ensured that there were no hiccups in the chase. The rain probably spared Pakistan a bigger humiliation.
 Earlier, India’s bowling quartet of Bhuvneshwar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma shared the bulk of the spoils as they never really let Pakistan batsmen off the hook.
Spin twins Ravindra Jadeja (2/30 in 8 overs)and Ravichandran Ashwin (2/35 in 8 overs) kept the Pakistan batsmen on a leash during the middle overs after a brilliant opening spell by Bhuvneshwar, who again produced the goods upfront.
While Asad Shafiq (41) was the top-scorer for Pakistan, a lot of their batsmen got starts but were unable to convert them into substancial scores due to some impressive bowling. The bowlers picked up wickets at regular intervals as Pakistan’s woeful show with the bat continued. The top-order again saw a familiar collapse.
Nasir Jamshed, who has scored all his three ODI centuries against India, failed to reproduce his magic this time.
The left-handed opener was circumspect and enjoyed a lifeline when on one. Ruled out leg before by umpire Richard Kettleborough, the batsman was saved by the DRS.
 However, his innings was soon cut short by a beauty from Bhuvneshwar.
 Bhuvneswar Kumar got the ball to swing both ways and found the edge of Jamshed’s tentative prod which saw Suresh Raina complete an easy catch at second slip. Jamshed scored just two runs off nine balls.
India captain Mehndra Singh Dhoni was all praise for young Bhuvneshwar Kumar whose brilliant spell of eight overs set the tone for India’s facile eight-wicket victory over arhc-rivals Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy here today.
“He (Bhuvneshwar) is not someone who is very quick but he bowls in very good areas. In these conditions, he used the new ball well as he can swing the ball both ways,” Dhoni said at the post-match presentation ceremony. India’s middle-order hasn’t been tested in the three matches so far but Dhoni said that it is not of great concern.
“We have a settled middle-order consisting of myself, Raina (Suresh) and Jadeja (Ravindra). We have played a lot of matches and only thing that we need is for Raina to get some more practice at the nets. Also the middle-order got a fair outing during the two warm-up games.”