When Virat Kohli decided to bowl first after winning the toss at The Kennington Oval he would have hoped to keep Pakistan under check and restrict them to a score below 300. However, things did not go according to plan as the opposition batsman dominated the Indian bowlers from the word -go. With a newly laid fresh pitch on offer which was quite hard and had true bounce, it helped the Pakistan batsman gauge the pace of the wicket and play offensive strokes from the start. Traditionally Oval offers the best batting pitch in England and staying put with its reputation it was another belter of a wicket where batsmen made merry and the bowlers were bullied.
With no assistance to the pacers from the beginning, the opening batsman got off to a good start. Together the duo of Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali forged their second successive 100-run stand and dominated the Indian bowlers. Azhar Ali took a special liking to R Ashwin whom he milked for runs while Ravindra Jadeja was also taken to the cleaners. In his spell of ten overs, Ashwin gave away as many as 70 runs. Meanwhile, in their partnership of 128, the duo (Zaman and Ali) made use of the true bounce on offer and cut, pulled and drove with panache. Jasprit Bumrah was another Indian bowler who proved ineffective as the batsmen took out 68 runs in his nine overs.
However, the batsmen who followed the openers also got in quickly and did not find it hard to get going. Apart from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya, all the other bowlers went for more than seven runs per over. None of them was allowed to settle in as the opposition batsmen made good use of the pace on offer. Towards the end of the innings, the Indian bowlers might have hoped for some reverse swing to keep the batsmen in check but that too was nullified because the wicket at the Oval is a new one and the outfield too is lush green. At the end of innings on a flat batting wicket, Pakistan notched up 338 runs at the end of 50 overs which has put them in the driving seat.
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