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A day after he won the IPL, Rohit Sharma was asked about the difficulty in switching to the 50-over format. He sighed, rolled his eyes, and was almost annoyed: “We have been playing IPL for 10 years now. There would be no problem,” he said. Still, one was curious. Surely, the frenetic batting urges of the IPL would spill over into the Champions Trophy; after all there wasn’t much of a gap. India rubbished any such concern, and Sharma walked the talk, as India they put up a masterful display of how to play 50-over cricket.
Since the completion of the 2015 World Cup, India have the lowest run-rate, 4.84, in the first 10 overs among all countries that have qualified for the Champions Trophy. It’s a startling stat, but the one that captures the soul of this Indian ODI team: Preserve wickets, build a base, and then unleash violence.
They got 46 runs in the first 10 overs here, but this game had another challenge that India had to counter: the rain breaks. They break the momentum, they can spoil the patient build-up plan that India have as you are suddenly staring at a potential loss of overs, and they can yank you out of Plan A. Not with India. They added 49 in the next nine overs as the openers again eased themselves in. Near the next rain break, they slowed down again, but again there was no panic. Even though they lost Sharma almost immediately on resumption, Yuvraj and Virat Kohli played themselves in, before they launched a jaw-dropping assault.