Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill gave a masterclass in aggressive batsmanship with sublime half-centuries that took India to 147 for 2 against Pakistan on Sunday before the skies opened up to force their Asia Cup Super 4 match into the reserve day. The reserve day’s proceedings will start from 3 PM IST onwards, after the rain stopped the proceedings on 4.52 PM this day. India had played 24.1 overs when the rain came down, and will resume from that point (24.2 overs) on the morrow. The two not out batsmen are Virat Kohli (8) and KL Rahul (17).
This also means that Indian players will have to take to the field for two more days in succession – Monday for the reserve day against Pakistan and on Tuesday for their second Super 4 match against Sri Lanka.
Before nature showed its ugly face, Rohit (56, 49 balls, 6×4, 4×6) and Gill (58, 52 balls, 10×4) were in spectacular touch while adding 121 runs in just 100 balls.
On Saturday, Gill had spoken about the need to be dominant against Pakistan pacers upfront, and that’s precisely what the Indian openers did.
Left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi had troubled Rohit in the past with deliveries that came in to him at a brisk clip. But on this day, the Indian captain was better prepared.
A slightly opened up stance allowed him to deal with the incoming deliveries more effectively, and it was on display when he flicked Afridi over backward square leg for a six.
It was just a teaser as Gill also soon joined the party. He also trained guns on Afridi, slamming him for six fours in all.
There was this classy sequence when Gill smashed Afridi for three fours in the third over.
Gill began the assault with a couple of wristy flicks, and then plonked his front foot forward and punched the ball past the mid-off fielder.
In the fifth over, Gill again tore into Afridi with another delectable shot.
The right-hander shimmied down the track to reach the pitch of the ball, and then pummelled it over the head of the bowler. It was a magnificent confluence of pure timing and power.
India reached 61 for no loss in the first Power Play and it was also one of those rare occasions when Afridi failed to pick up a wicket in that segment.
Even though Afridi was completely neutralised, Pakistan tried to make some dents on the Indian batting line-up through pacer Naseem Shah.
When conditions are in his favour, Naseem can be a dangerous prospect, and here there was appreciable bounce too on the pitch.
The right-arm pacer worked up pace in excess of 140 kmph and Rohit might just consider himself extremely lucky not to snick a delivery behind to the stumper or to the waiting cordon.
However, Rohit had no such issues when leg-spinner Shadab Khan was introduced into the attack.
Rohit brought his pet pull shot out of the cupboard to punish the Pakistan vice-captain with three sixes inside his first two overs.
Shadab might have learned the lesson in a hard way that never ever drop the ball short against Rohit.
Pakistan’s desperate wait to get a breakthrough ended when Shadab eventually took a bit of revenge on Rohit.
Rohit could not time or place his uppish chip shot and Faheem Ashraf took a tumbling catch much to the relief of Pakistan.
Pakistan soon secured another wicket as Gill fell to Afridi, an iota of solace for the bowler after all that punishment earlier.
Gill shaped up for a drive through the cover but realised that the ball was a slower leg-cutter and all he could do was to prod the ball to Salman Agha.
Rahul, who came in for Shreyas Iyer suffering from back spasm, looked good during his brief stay, in the company of Kohli.
But all that came to a halt after the play was suspended due to heavy showers.
The ground staff tried their best to revive the match and there were inspections on 7 pm, 7.30 pm, 8 pm and 8.30 pm.
But that final inspection did not even take place properly as it began to rain once again and the officials had no other way but to activate the reserve day.
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