World Cup: There was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the bowlers as the Indian playing XI for the Pakistan match was displayed on the giant screen at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad after the toss. The enthusiastic crowd, eager for the performance of their batting superstars like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and K L Rahul, roared with excitement. However, their applause for players like Mohammad Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, and local star Jasprit Bumrah was much more subdued.
As the India-Pakistan match unfolded, there was a noticeable shift in the script. The first half of the game was dominated by fast-paced new-ball pacers and a skilled wrist-spinner, reminiscent of the ’90s when Pakistan had a formidable bowling lineup. These bowlers collaborated to dismiss Pakistan for 191, which was a relatively modest target for a World Cup game.
Rohit Sharma’s magnificent 86 off 63 balls ensured India’s victory, as they won by seven wickets in just 30.3 overs. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj, and Kuldeep Yadav brought back memories of the kind of bowling arsenal that Imran Khan’s team showcased during the 1992 World Cup. While Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya also contributed with a couple of wickets each, the late afternoon 30-minute burst by the first three bowlers turned the highly-anticipated game into a one-sided contest.
Around 4 pm, the match seemed to be heading towards a lull. The pitch appeared uneventful, and the commentators described it as the “boring middle overs.” The crowd in Ahmedabad grew restless, and some spectators headed to the food terrace for a cup of tea known for its sleep-inducing qualities.
The excitement returned at 4:15 pm when Mohammad Siraj dismissed Babar Azam, who had just reached his half-century. The crowd came alive, and the fans were wide awake, celebrating Siraj’s achievement.
At 4:30 pm, Kuldeep Yadav trapped Saud Shakeel lbw, and a stroke of luck favored India as Iftikar Ahmed’s glove led to an improbable dismissal. This brought cheers from the crowd and chants of “Chak de India” and “Kuldeep, Kuldeep.”
Despite the efforts of Siraj and Kuldeep, Mohammad Rizwan, the resilient Pakistani batsman, remained at the crease. It took a brilliantly disguised slower off-cutter from Jasprit Bumrah to dismiss Rizwan. Bumrah left another lasting impression by delivering a vicious leg-cutter that dismantled Shadab Khan’s stumps, dashing Pakistan’s hopes. The crowd erupted in cheers with chants of “Chak de India” and “Boom boom Bumrah.”
During this period, the stadium transformed into a rock concert atmosphere, and the effort made by the fans to attend the match was entirely justified. Selfies were taken with the stadium in the background, with captions like “I was there” flooding social media. Even a young constable on duty couldn’t resist sharing the excitement with his family.
In the end, the game concluded with chants of ‘Rohit, Rohit,’ but it was the bowlers who truly shone in a match of great significance. They sealed the victory for India in those thrilling 30 minutes.