The coin went up in the air, and Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq got the spin in his favour. With no hesitation and dew in his mind, he invited the opposition to bat. A struggling Indian opening combination took crease, and signalled intent right from the word go.
Surprise! surprise! Rohit Sharma found the middle early, and made going tough for the Pakistan new ball attack, which had a spinner from one end. The move of starting with a spinner raised eyebrows, but all of that was put to rest when Hafeez, with his accurate offies, scalped Shikhar Dhawan early.
In walked the Indian skipper Virat Kohli. For a change, all the attention was directed towards Rohit, who was timing the ball sweetly.
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Rohit is probably one cricketer who you can love, hate, but can’t ignore. After a lean patch, he comes up with a performance to remember.
In the previous fixture, the right-hander faced a hard time in the middle. The feet was not moving and boundaries weren’t coming. This is not a new situation for Rohit, who has on a lot of occasions come under pressure for not scoring on consistent basis. One good knock follows a string of poor performances.
After a poor tour of New Zealand and South Africa, a good ‘Rohit knock’ was due, due big time. It was a different Rohit today. The one who we always want to see, but don’t see that often. He picked the lengths to perfection, lofted with impeccable timing and operated with the calculation of a mathematician and precision of a surgeon.
Wickets were tumbling at the other end, but Rohit maintained his own. Against the run of play, Rohit attempted one shot too many and was scalped by debutant Talah for a 58-ball 56.
How often have we seen a spinner start proceedings in the batting powerplays and the death overs? How often have seen a spinner, who bowls the 49th over of the innings, goes for only one and picks two wickets in the process?
The answer will be, “not very often”. But when the ball is in Ajmal’s hands, the-not-so-often happens. The off-spinner’s variations, and his control on them makes him unplayable. If not unplayable, then a very difficult bowler to score runs off. There is the doosra, the flatter off-spinner, the stock ball and the one that holds its line. Six balls to bowl in an over and this man has the capability of bowling four different ones.
Misbah used the spinner well as the Indians found him difficult on a track where the odd ball was gripping the surface. Well bowled Ajmal!
Still finding his ‘moment’ in international cricket, Ambati Rayudu almost got one today. Coming into bat after Rohit’s wicket, in the 20th over of the innings, it was not an easy time to bat against the on-song Pakistan bowling line-up.
Known to clear the ropes at will, Rayudu played a different game. A game which the situation demanded in the middle. Along with Dinesh Karthik, he stitched a crucial partnership and didn’t do anything silly in the process. Turned it around for the ones and twos, and didn’t spare the looseners.
The right-hander couldn’t bat through the innings and was holed out in the deep shortly after bringing up his second ODI fifty.