India's MS Dhoni shakes hands with England's Jonny Bairstow
India's MS Dhoni shakes hands with England's Jonny Bairstow at the end of the match. Image Credit: Reuters

Divided by England in 1947, it’s cricket that has united India and Pakistan once again in 2019.

And Pakistan is batting for an India win.

Pakistani expats and loyal Gulf News readers Gulzar Ahmad, Shahryar Shaikh and Saad Bin Khalid will provide the lowdown on the game as it progresses, with their hopes firmly pinned on an Indian victory.

Their passion for today’s game will be punctuated by expert commentary from our in-house Pakistan cricket coach Ashfaq Ahmed (alas, he is also the Associate Editor – Online!) and the final word from our in-house third umpire Balaram Menon (who occasionally doubles up as a Senior Web Producer). Presiding over the commentaries and moderating them will be our social media whizkid and Pakistan cheer-leader Falah GulzarOur chief analyst and expert cricketer A.K.S. Satish will also give his flavour to the goings on.

And our Assistant Editor Chiranjib Sengupta and Opinion Editor Shyam Krishna have the final word.

Join all the action and the whirlwind commentary below:

England win by 31 runs

Shyam A. Krishna: What an awful finish. Guess India were trying to protect the net run rate. But that made for boring cricket. At a time when you would have expected Dhoni and Jadhav to go down with their guns blazing. Disappointing, to say the least.

India: 306/5 in 50 overs

Satish: The better team won. The unbeaten in the tournament, India, have suffered their first defeat. Now Pakistan’s destiny is in their own hands as they have to beat Bangladesh to keep their chances alive in the World Cup. Until then we have to wait!

India lose the battle as Pakistani fans' prayers left unanswered

Gulzar: Now I'm shifting my focus on praying for the Kiwis to win. It was a fun match to watch but I wish the Indians won. However, it's time to look ahead.

Saad: Disappointed from India. Took a good start but the top order took a lot of time to settle and as a result they crumbled towards the end. Now the fate of us Pakistanis lies in the hands of the Kiwis. Hopefully they don't make the same blunders as India. Looking forward to some good cricket in the next fixtures.

Shahryar: The head start that England got really helped them and India performed poorly in the beginning so they couldn't chase well. Now we need England to lose against New Zealand. Everything depends on technicalities of the tournament for the Pakistanis.

Only a miracle can save the Indians

Gulzar: Well let's try to look at the bright side - at least this match brought Indians and Pakistanis together.

Shahryar: Intense situation at the moment. Now they need a miracle to win this match. Looks like Pakistanis need to support and save their remaining prayers for the next game of England which is against New Zealand

India 287 for 5 in 48 overs. Requires 51 runs from 12 balls, impossible!

Dhoni’s fire is not enough

Shyam A. Krishna: Dhoni’s fighting gamely. But that’s not enough. Even huge over won’t help. Only interest is how close can we get.

India: 276/5 in 46 overs

Pandya is out, third wicket for Plunkett

He was caught by Vince at long-on for 45. India: 267 for 5 in 45 overs. Require another 71 runs from 30 balls to win.

England's Liam Plunkett
England's Liam Plunkett celebrates after the dismissal of India's Hardik Pandya. Image Credit: AP

Now India needs 78 off 36

The pressure is back on India. After losing Rishabh Pant, they have slowed down. Desperately need the big hits.

83 off 42 needed for Inida

Hardik Pandya holds the key in this chase. He is taking the risks and Dhoni must be happy to give him the strike.

India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni bats
India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni bats during the match. Image Credit: AP

Chase over for India

Shyam A. Krishna: Rohit’s exit was a body blow. Pant dismissal makes it even worse. Now can Dhoni pull a rabbit out of his hat? Unlikely. Now the interest is how close they can get. Pakistanis must be more worried than the Indians.

Rishabh Pant falls for 32


Balaram: Liam Plunkett gets Rishabh Pant to dent India's chances. Chris Woakes takes a stunning catch to send the India wicketkeeper-batsman back. Pressure on India as they have lost one of their most explosive batsmen.

India are: 234 for 4 at the end of 40th over.

England's cricketers celebrate
England's cricketers celebrate the dismissal of India's Rishabh Pant. Image Credit: AP

Has Rishabh Pant gone babysitting?

Chiranjib: Well, former English players did ask for Vijay Shankar to be played this game instead of Rishabh Pant. And the reason is showing.

You would expect a Pant-Rohit Sharma combination to set the stadium on fire.

And yet Pant is sedate and serene by his usual standards.

Rusty and extra cautious. Signs of immense pressure showing on him.

Doubly so considering India are chasing 338.

And very strange that chasing 338, none of the Indian batsmen have hit a six.

Possibly Pant is yet to come out of his babysitting blues!

A fan holds up a photo of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi
A fan holds up a photo of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and the president of the United States of America Donald Trump during the match. Image Credit: Reuters

India on charge

As Hardik Pandya tees off, hitting three consecutive boundaries off Chris Woakes, India reach 226 for 3 in 39 overs, need another 112 runs from remaining 11 overs.

Chris Woakes removes Rohit Sharma

Balaram: India have lost their vice captain Rohit Sharma for 102. Chris Woakes, who bowled three maidens in the first spell, was brought back into attack to bowl the 37th over and he struck with the first ball of his 2nd spell. India 204 for 3 at the end of 37th over.

England's Chris Woakes
England's Chris Woakes celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of India's Rohit Sharma. Image Credit: Reuters

Ton up Rohit has to keep going

Shyam Krishna: Rohit’s third ton in this tournament. He has to carry on to a double for India to win. And Pant has to keep his bat in hand. Two fours in the over. His intent is clear. But got to keep his wicket as well. Solid at the moment. Without much alarms. Run rate over 10. Shouldn’t allow that to climb further. Or the match will slip away.

India: 198/2 in 36 overs

Fans look for hope as chances of India winning look dull

Gulzar: It is a difficult task for the Indians to recover from this but they are capable of achieving it if wickets are in their hands and they maintain a good run rate until 40 overs. The last 10 overs will be even more crucial for the team.

As I hear commentary on the television, it is surprised to hear that the public’s match predictions is with 72 per cent favouring England.

Shahryar: Chances are looking slim and the hopes of Pakistani fans have dropped but India still has a small probability to chase it and our bets are on it.

Rohit Sharma completes century, Pant looks for momentum as asking rate climbs

Balaram: India require another 150 runs with 8 wickets and 15 overs remaining. India are 188 for 2 in 35 overs. Sharma 101 not out and Pant on 17 not out.

Crunch time for India

Shyam Krishna: It’s a tricky situation. Kohli gone. Rohit and Rishabh Pant should take India to the 280s, if a win has to be achieved. Not easy. Because they have to keep their wickets intact and at the same time keep up the run rate. But they have to do it. For the Indian and Pakistani supporters.

India: 183/2 in 34 overs

It’s Twenty20 time again

Satish: An untimely wicket of skipper Virat Kohli has set India back again, but 185 runs in 20 overs with eight wickets on hand is highly attainable. However, Pant and Rohit need to build on the partnership before Dhoni and Pandya could unleash their strokes.

India: 152/2 in 30 overs (England 202/1)

Kohli out and the match seems to be slipping away from the Indians

Gulzar: Kohli out! And it is a sad moment for all Indians and Pakistanis. Next batsmen are Pant and Dhoni and all the hopes of the Indians and Pakistanis are on their shoulders.

Saad: Beautiful knock by Kohli; would have loved to see him finish the innings with Sharma nevertheless he has set up the platform. Rishabh Pant has been handed over a World Cup debut; has shown his aggression in IPL and Tests now let’s see what he does in this game. Fingers crossed.

Shahryar: Huge blow for India! England gets the wicket of Kohli! Soft dismissal from a player like him and yet he again falls off after scoring a half-century. It was an unexpected loss I must say!

The pressure is building up on team India now as it could be seen by them running between the wickets.

England's Liam Plunkett
England's Liam Plunkett celebrates taking the wicket of India's Virat Kohli. Image Credit: Reuters

Plunkett removes Kohli, gives England crucial breakthrough

Balaram: Virat Kohli is caught by JM Vince off Liam Plunkett for 66, again failed to convert a fifty into a century. Indian skipper smashed this wide delivery from Plunkett straight into the hands of point bringing an end to the 138-run 2nd wicket partnership. India: 146 for 2 in 28.2 overs.

Ominous signs from Rohit Sharma

Satish: Looks like Rohit Sharma has regained his sublime touch, which is good news for India as he is one player capable of taking the match away from under the rivals nose. His three fours off Ben Stokes is such pure class that one hopes he gets many more…

India: 140/1 in 27 overs (England: 191/1)

India's Rohit Sharma
India's Rohit Sharma (L) celebrates with captain Virat Kohli after scoring a half-century. Image Credit: AFP

Kohli and Sharma trying to accelerate

Satish: Rohit Sharma has hit another half-century. For the Pakistan and Indian fans, it is not looking all that bad even though the run rate is hovering 8.6, not a tough ask for the class players like Rohit and Kohli around. But England still holds the advantage.

India: 120/1 in 25 overs, (England 180/1 in 25 overs)

Ashfaq Ahmed: Despite being a Pakistani fan, I congratulate Kohli and Sharma on hitting their fifties, though It is hard to say this but I must today. Both the batsmen are showing their class as great batsmen. Though the run is soaring but I am sure they can reach the target given their experience in the IPL matches to chase big run rate per over. Nothing is impossible for Kohli when it comes to cricket. Keep batting, Pakistanis are praying for you. All my friends as watching this match as if it is India-Pakistan game but this time England is playing as India –our worst cricket rival.

Kohli brings up his half-century, fiffth in a row

Balaram: Fifty for Indian captain Kohli off 59 balls, his 54th in ODIs. And he equals Steve Smith's record of 5 consecutive World Cup fifty plus scores and also becomes the first ever captain to achieve this amazing feat. India 83 for 1 in 20 overs.

India's captain Virat Kohli bats
India's captain Virat Kohli bats during the match. Image Credit: AP

‘Partnership is key between batsmen’ say Pakistani fans

Gulzar: For India, the run rate required jumped to 8.5 per over. Playing in pairs should be number one priority now. India has one of the world’s best players, they can manage to redeem themselves, If by the 30th over the manage to attain 180 runs, then they have a good chance of hitting the target of 338.

Kohli bats really well now. What an absolutely world-class player, it is habitual for him to score under difficult situations and his previous records have proved this.

Saad: India are currently having a slow conversion rate but the good news is no wickets have been lost. A strong partnership is required here for other players to build up. Pakistani fans may have shifted their focus from match to prayer mats!

Shahryar: Kohli is living up to his name and playing captains knock. His partner is also supporting him now, as he looks more comfortable than before. Both of them should not worry about the run rate and play the game. If this partnership continues for the next 10 overs then we all would be seeing how lethal these two could be.

England pacers keep up pressure on Rohit and Kohli


Satish: For Ashfaq’s sake the Indian team is responding to his support and building a partnership, but coming in at a slow pace. At the drinks the refreshments would give them the required boost to push the run rate ahead.

India are: 71/1 in 18 overs (England were 130 no loss).

Mounting asking rate

Satish: It’s time to act as the run rate is climbing past eight runs an over. The Indians have picked up their scoring in the last five overs, but still struggling against the incisive bowling by the England pacers on a dual-paced wicket. India are 53/1 in 15 overs.

Ashfaq Ahmed: Pakistan-England match is well past 15 overs with India 53 for one . Well done skipper Virat Kohli and superstar Rohit Sharma as they successfully recover through the crucial new ball overs by England seamers. Now both look in control as the ball is getting old. Despite being Pakistani, I always admired Kohli for his fighting batting spirit but he will earn more respect from Pakistanis like me if he manages to carry bat giving India a big win with daunting score chase. India has plenty of batting to come and Pakistanis are keeping their hopes alive praying for Team India to win this crucial game (for Pakistan). Dear Kohli, don’t throw away your wicket as we Pakistanis are watching you.

India's Rohit Sharma plays a shot
India's Rohit Sharma plays a shot. Image Credit: Reuters

Bowling at the right areas

Satish: The hosts England live and sleep on these wickets, they know a trick or two better than the Indian seamers. That’s the reason why India are not able to play their shots freely. Just a small comparison, England were 46 no loss at the end of the ninth over, India on the other hand are 27/1 in 9 overs.

India's captain Virat Kohli bats
India's captain Virat Kohli bats during the match. Image Credit: AP

Pakistanis says their team’s fate is in the hands of Kohli as India's second innings begin

Gulzar: Hopes are still intact as one player has been out from India. Kohli and Rohit Sharma need to show their partnership and use it to their advantage. If they score 150 runs there will be a good chance for the team or else one more wicket can be troubling for the Indians.

Kohli is my favourite player, I haven’t seen a better player than him from the last 10 years. He can save wickets and score runs for the team. It’s India’s most important asset right now. If he stays, he is also great at guiding others.

Saad: K. L. Rahul's wicket has shifted the pressure back to India. Kohli and Sharma should look at building the innings from here and then leave the rest to MS Dhoni and Pandya.

Shahryar: The fate of the Pakistani team depends on the Indian captain. Right from the beginning it’s a huge blow for team India as they lost K. L. Rahul in power play. Kohli walks in and he really needs to step up now and play captain’s knock. They have to chase down a very big total so they really need to keep the basics right.

If another wicket falls down in power play then someone from the middle order has to play the miraculous innings just like Imad Wasim did yesterday.

Spilled catches offer India a lifeline

Shyam A. Krishna: India certainly are off to a wretched start. Rahul gone. Rohit and Kohli dropped. They got to make their lives count, if India have to nurture any hopes of a realistic chase. This pair has to prosper. Or else, it is curtains for India. England no doubt are in the driving seat. Forget about the catches spilled. They still are favourites to win. Especially since runs are coming in a trickle. India are 22 for 1 in 8 overs.

England's Joe Root
England's Joe Root reacts after dropping a catch. Image Credit: AFP

Woakes bowls 3 maidens in a row

Balaram: England's Chris Woakes bowled his 3rd maiden in a row as India are forced on the backfoot early. Both Kohli and Rohit are struggling to get runs. India are 9 for 1 in 5 overs.

England get an early breakthrough

KL Rahul is caught and bowled by Chris Woakes for a duck. India are 8 for 1 in 3 overs.

England's Chris Woakes
England's Chris Woakes celebrates taking the wicket of India's K. L. Rahul. Image Credit: Reuters

India's massive chase begin

Good news is that KL Rahul has come out to open with Rohit Sharma. India need 338 to seal a semi-final spot.

Bairstow, Stokes power England to 337/7 despite Shami’s 5-wicket haul

Balaram: England have set India 338 runs to win and seal their place in the semi-finals. A super batting effort from England who were under tremendous pressure after back-to-back defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia. India have never chased down a total of more than 300 runs in a World Cup, will this change today?

A nail-biter of a first innings, Pakistani fans bring in patriotic sentiments to cheer India

Gulzar: Pakistani fans were on the edge of their seats during the first innings. Now, India needs to play patiently and hold on to their wickets. Slowly and steadily building their innings by six runs in a over until they reach the 25th over without losing any wickets. Then they will have a good chance to get a good score. I believe that they have a strong batting line-up, more than other teams from the subcontinent like Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Saad: After a shaky start by India initially, they have done well to restrict England to under 350. Looking at India's previous chase record and the current performance in the World Cup, this shouldn’t be a difficult task.

Shahryar: England scored a decent total in the first inning. India needs to have a strong opening with wicket-taking bowlers. India needs to chase 337 runs and prayers of the Pakistanis are with them. They need to work as hard as they worked when gaining independence from the British…

Spectators cheer
Spectators cheer during the match between England and India at Edgbaston in Birmingham. Image Credit: AFP

Splendid knock by Stokes comes to an end

Balaram: Ben Stokes perishes to a low full toss from Jasprit Bumrah that he was trying to scoop it to the fine leg fence. He was caught in the deep by Ravindra Jadeja for 79.

England's Ben Stokes plays a shot
England's Ben Stokes plays a shot. Image Credit: Reuters

Chris Woakes departs

Balaram: 5-wicket haul for Mohammad Shami, while Ben Stokes keeps on hitting as England eye a big total. Score is 334 for 6 at the end of 49th over.

England 5 down, Buttler departs

Jos Buttler is caught by Mohammad Shami on his own bolwling for 20. England reach 311 for 5 in 47.1 overs.

Pakistani fans’ fears high as Buttler steps in…

Gulzar: Buttler is a great hitter, this one might be tough for India. This kind of situation is his (Buttler’s) ideal one. He already started with a six, I am just waiting to see where it goes from here…

Saad: Ben Stokes had pressed the accelerator pedal for England and with Buttler stepping in, there's still some action remaining. Anything under 350 will be easily chased by India, given the team's deep batting line-up and with all the prayers of the subcontinent nations, I doubt India will let it slip from here!

Hold on for some fireworks from Buttler!

Shahryar: It’s getting tense for India. Seven overs remaining but Buttler is a proper slogger and the last ten overs are usually critical anyway. India needs to be very careful when they bowl.

England's Jos Buttler hits a six
England's Jos Buttler hits a six during the match. Image Credit: Reuters

Shami bags his third wicket

Balaram: Joe Root departs, caught brilliantly by Hardik Pandya at fine leg as England aim for powerful finish. England are 289 for 4 at the end of 45th over.

India's Mohammad Shami
India's Mohammad Shami (left) celebrates taking the wicket of England's Joe Root. Image Credit: Reuters

Brilliant come back by Indian bowlers raises faint hopes of victory

Chiranjib: A relatively expensive over by Chahal, but overall it’s been a superb comeback by Team India in the last 10 overs.

And remember that between Bumrah and Shami, they have 8 overs to go!

If 380 and 400 were the expected scores in the beginning, it’s 310- 320 now. So tighten your belts for a thrilling finish to the first innings.

One question though: if Indian spinners were so expensive, why didn’t Kohli try his hand at bowling to pull things back further?

Come on captain, don’t disappoint your fans – specially from the other side of the subcontinent. They are rooting for you today.

Satish: Don’t count on it yet. Two overs needed to be bowled other than Shami and Bumrah. So these overs could be costly and shift the momentum.

Let’s hope it doesn’t.

England's Ben Stokes plays a shot
England's Ben Stokes plays a shot as India's wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni looks on. Image Credit: AFP

Indian bowlers are finally listening to the prayers of Pakistani fans

Ashfaq Ahmed: Finally, India has put a brake on England’s run riot. Though England still looks in control with 245 for three in 40 overs, Indian bowlers are finally listening to the prayers of Pakistani fans. It is still to see how they behave in the last 10 overs of the game Anything close to 350 on the scoreboard looks certain for England unless Indian bowlers try to choke the English batsmen in the death overs. Hello, Aleem Dar (Pakistani umpire), please wake up. You may be trying to fair in the match but please don’t be over cautious. This is not India-Pakistan match and you will not be blamed for taking a brave call.

Now let’s see whether Indian pacer Bumrah can cast his spell in the last 10 overs. Come on Team India.

Predictions made as Pakistani Pashtuns dance to India gaining wicket

Gulzar: Jos Butler is awaiting to bat. He will be the game changer I believe. I think he will also increase the run rate and that could be a massive threat to us.

Shahryar: India has bowled well overall, especially Shami has performed great. I think that they can restrict the score to 300. Hopefully it goes smooth for India, so that Pakistan gets through!

Saad: Another one for Shami! He's letting his bowling do the talking. Massive blow for England as their captain goes back to the dugout. England is in trouble! Meanwhile Pashtuns are doing their traditional Attan dance to celebrate this wicket in Peshawar; cricket has united these rivals together!

Ben stokes wicket is crucial

Shyam A. Krishna: If India can get Ben Stokes, Pakistan can breathe easy. And that has to happen in the next few overs. Or else, England will pile more misery on Pakistan.

Satish: Unfortunately, Jos Buttler will follow. Unless India get them both, it will be difficult to restrict.

By the way as strange coincidence in England batting order. With Jason, Jonny and Joe doing well today, it may well be the turn of Jos as well!

No penalty for Rahul due to absence

Satish: KL Rahul, who was substituted after suffering an injury while attempting a catch in the boundary, should be able to bat at his normal position.

According to the Laws of the game:

24.3: Penalty time not incurred

A nominated player’s absence will not incur Penalty time if,

24.3.1: he/she has suffered an external blow during the match and, as a result, has justifiably left the field or is unable to take the field.

Morgan goes as Pakistan relives the Paine

Chiranjib: Shyam, don’t dig up ‘Paineful’ memories for Pakistan!

For it was Tim Paine – who allowed official Indian babysitter Rishabh Pant to “babysit” his children – who captained Australia to a sensational draw against Pakistan in the first of their Test series in Dubai last year.

Meanwhile it’s Shami on a roll – with captain Morgan out! England is 207/3.

Balaram: Mohammad Shami has brought India back into the game with quick wickets of Bairstow and Morgan. He has bowled a brilliant second spell. England's scoring rate has dipped after these quick wickets. Ben Stokes joins Joe Root in the middle for England.

India's Mohammad Shami
India's Mohammad Shami, centre, and teammates celebrate the dismissal of England's captain Eoin Morgan. Image Credit: AP

Bairstow out, hopes back up!

Gulzar: Bairstow is all out of luck and the match as millions prayed for him to depart. I think he was victim to the evil eye of the millions of fans from the subcontinent.

Saad: Bairstow is gone and Shami is the magician this time. Credit goes to Kohli as well for bringing back Shami into attack. It’s game on from here. Go Team India!

Shahryar: Bairstow is out as millions cheer on the Indian team. My hopes are finally back up!

Smiles back for Pakistan as Bairstow departs

Chiranjib: Bairstow departs at unlucky Nelson! But after a brilliant display of batting. He has put on a solid foundation for England – if India can restrict them to anything under 360, it’s match on for Pakistan. I mean, India!

Balaram: Mohammad Shami strikes to dismiss Jonny Bairstow for 111. He was caught at deep point by Rishab Pant. England are 205 for 2 in 32 overs

India's Mohammad Shami
India's Mohammad Shami, centre, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of England's Jonny Bairstow. Image Credit: AP

England cruising, reach 202 for 1 in 30 overs

Ashfaq Ahmed: Hello Team India, why are you making it so obvious that you wanted to lose to England just to force Pakistan out of the World Cup. Were you not satisfied with after thrashing Pakistan earlier? Can’t believe that England scored 202 runs in just 30 overs against the strong bowling attack of India. It’s not fair at all. England is scoring with ease making mockery of the Indian bowling and fielding. India Team must put up some fight to stop England from scoring record breaking 400 plus runs in a world cup match. India Team must try to keep its unbeaten record in this world cup. This will be amazing, isn’t it. This is your chance to win hearts of Pakistani fans. We will support you in the matches to come, promise.

Shyam A. Krishna: Ashfaq, don’t worry. Pakistan’s wish will be granted. Don’t write off Indian batting yet. After all, we have the best babysitter in the world onboard today. Just you wait.

Satish: Ashfaq, Pakistan’s Aleem Dar is the umpire in this game, hope he makes a genuine mistake some time in this match!!! However, something to cheer after one more wicket. More to come…

England's Jonny Bairstow celebrates scoring a century
England's Jonny Bairstow celebrates scoring a century. Image Credit: AP

A true test for Indian batsmen

Satish: At this rate England will score anywhere between 370-380. The famed Indian batting line-up will be tested here against a potent home attack that’s difficult to handle in conditions favouring them.

Bairstow hits a hundred! Pakistanis under stress

Saad: Bairstow’s first World Cup hundred and that too coming in against India at such a crucial stage of the tournament. India has to do some magic with the ball or else the subcontinent hopes are going down the drain! England aren’t going to go down without a fight and they are making their intentions clear here with this blitzkrieg of a batting! Beautiful stuff, I must say.

Shahryar: A hundred for Bairstow. The man played innings of his life when we needed him to get out early in the game. Great timing! The score is just not stopping; it’s a critical time in the match.

Gulzar: England has played exceptionally well in the last 30 overs and scored 200 runs. They are out in the field going for big targets like hitting 350. It looks tough for the fans in the subcontinent. I am going back to a Lagaan reference, Indian bowlers have been playing like the character ‘Kachra’ in the movie who was the underdog. Who says we can’t root for the underdog?

England's Jonny Bairstow (C) celebrates after scoring a century
England's Jonny Bairstow (C) celebrates after scoring a century as India's Hardik Pandya (R) looks. Image Credit: AFP

Century by Bairstow and half centuries by Kuldeep, Chahal give Pakistan fans the jitters

Chiranjib: So both Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have scored quick fifties – with the ball. Both managed to conceded more than 50 runs in about six overs.

Pakistan fans would be delighted to see the back of the explosive Jason Roy – but Joe Root looks to be in equally devastating form.

And Johny Bairstow has silenced his critics with a scintillating century. It will be interesting to hear Michael Vaughan’s comments on this.

With England batting deep down until at least Plunkett, this is not a good omen for Pakistan – I mean India.

Meanwhile, are some die-hard Indian fans secretly rooting for England? The beaming satisfaction on their face at England’s more than 7 an over run rate seems to say so!

Mohammad Shami was pure unlucky not to get a wicket from his brilliant opening spell.

Fans from the subcontinent will be surely ruing it. Or are they?

India's captain Virat Kohli (L) and teammate Hardik Pandya
India's captain Virat Kohli (L) and teammate Hardik Pandya (C) discuss whether to make an appeal to the third umpire. Image Credit: AFP

Pakistanis rejoice as one out from England

Gulzar: Thank God! Thanks to Kohli who is a good captain and took Ravindra Jadeja into the team who helped India score their first out against England. He is a great fielder.

Saad: A sigh of relief! Yadav strikes and Roy is out. I bet all Pakistanis are back, glued to their screens.

Shahryar: After a long time something good for Pakistan… I mean India. England faces its first out. Hopefully they get more wickets. It was very late in the game but at least Pakistani fans are happy now

There's hope for India

Balaram: Jason Roy is out for 66.... stunning catch from Ravindra Jadeja. India needed something special to stop the rampage and it comes from their 12th man Ravindra Jadeja. Roy comes down the track to the flighted delivery from Kuldeep, gets to the pitch of it and hits it flat towards long on.

India's Kuldeep Yadav
India's Kuldeep Yadav, second right, and captain Virat Kohli, left, celebrate the dismissal of England's Jason Roy. Image Credit: AP

Pakistanis hoping for a miracle for India to win

Gulzar: What did the English players eat today? Maybe the Pakistani team also needs that. The runs are raining on team India! Speaking of rain, Pakistanis now can only come together and pray for heavy rain that might only be their saving grace.

Saad: Raining sixes and fours; India looking clueless at the moment. Maybe it’s time to bring in the part timers - Kane Williamson and Aaron Finch have done it for New Zealand and Australia with the ball; can Virat Kohli do it for India?

Shahryar: It’s not a great day for Pakistanis! The game is in the hand of the English now. Pakistanis are once again in the same state, of hoping for a miracle and pray.

Balaram: England are on a rampage mode, reached 145 for no loss at the end of 20 overs, with Jason Roy on 62 not out and Jonny Bairstow on 78 not out.

India's K.L. Rahul attempts a catch on the boundary
India's K.L. Rahul attempts a catch on the boundary. Image Credit: AFP

Steady start for England not good news for Pakistan

Satish: I am talking on both from India and Pakistan’s perspective in this match. What are the pros and cons and the impact of this outcome on their chances. Firstly, Jason Roy coming back into the team has added stability to the batting as in the last two games, an early wicket has set the hosts on the backfoot straight away.

However, from what it looks likely now, India are likely to face a big target to chase.

But one thing is sure, let’s get the fact right, whatever happens to this game, Pakistan will have to beat Bangladesh in the next and Bangladesh will have to lose to India before that, but in the meantime let’s wait and watch what drama unfolds today and, of course, tomorrow when Sri Lanka, who have a slim mathematical chance, take on West Indies.

Now back to England-India.

England's Jason Roy (R) attempts a reverse sweep shot
England's Jason Roy (R) attempts a reverse sweep shot as India's wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni looks on. Image Credit: AFP

Balaram: End of 15 overs — Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have put on the highest opening partnership against India in this World Cup and are showing no signs of stopping. England are cruising, 97 for no loss.

This is not fair Team India

Ashfaq Ahmed: Pakistani fans are not happy with your performance in the first 10 overs of your match against England which scored 48 runs in 10 overs without loss. Really. I can see India team is doing it ‘purposely’ to let England score. Just look at you best spinner Chahal’s figures. He hit for 18 runs in just two overs. It looks like free flowing batting from England batsmen with little resistance from India. Don’t do this, after all Pakistan is your neighbor.

Come on Team India, you need to win this match. We know this match is not important for India even if you throw it away but It will spoil you reputation. You need to make this game interesting by keep getting wickets of English batsmen. Just look around, Pakistani fans are cheering for you. Can you ever imagine this?

England's Jonny Bairstow bats
England's Jonny Bairstow bats during the the match at Edgbaston in Birmingham. Image Credit: AP

Pakistanis remain concerned as England continues to perform well

Gulzar: All that us Pakistanis can do right now is pray for India to get back!

Saad: Positive change to bring Hardik Pandya in. He has been in good form in the past few games; maybe he is the player who can make things difficult for England because at the moment there is no looking back for them… I think I might have to take my words back by how Pandya gave England a four and a six!

Shahryar: At this point, I think England is personally taking revenge from Pakistan for beating them previously in the tournament. Who knew that would cost us this way!

England's Jason Roy plays a shot
England's Jason Roy plays a shot. Image Credit: AFP

Pakistanis worried as India gains no wickets

10 overs completed: Englad are 47 for no loss, with Bairstow is 25 not out and Roy on 20 not out.

Gulzar: The most important weapon for the Indians are their spinners right now. We must restrict them to 320 runs. I like that this match has me referring to India, our arch-rivals in cricket, as ‘we’! I think that Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are both on their prayer mats as no wickets have been taken by India yet.

Saad: I will remain positive! The last two overs have been good for India including a maiden from Bumrah. If they continue with the same line and length I’m sure we will see a fall of wicket soon.

Shahryar: Looks like it’s an intense situation for the Pakistanis. I think the tense situation is going to give Pakistanis another round of heartache by how things are looking, especially after a heart racing game they had to witness yesterday against Afghanistan.

Batting for Bairstow

Chiranjib: Is Jonny Bairstow “negative and pathetic”? His batting certainly doesn’t reflect that today.

England opener Bairstow hit back at critics – former captains Michael Vaughan and fellow ex-skipper Kevin Pietersen – after the team suffered back-to-back losses against Sri Lanka and Australia, saying that people were waiting for England to fail at the World Cup. “Never has an England team had so much support, but it's you and your team that has disappointed Jonny,” Vaughan had said in an Instagram post.

Bairstow’s backlash didn’t sit well with Vaughan, who labelled the comments as "negative and pathetic".

But with 25 contemptuous runs under his belt, will Bairstow have the last laugh today?

General view of fans during the match
General view of fans during the match. Image Credit: Reuters

Pant makes his World Cup debut for India

Chiranjib: The first half-an-hour belongs to England for sure – and that will worry Pakistan fans.

England are off to a solid start under a slightly overcast Birmingham sky, with Jason Roy back in the team after recovering from a hamstring injury.

And they need him badly! England need to win their last two group matches against India and New Zealand to qualify for the semi-finals without relying on other results.

Pakistan’s fate hangs in the balance with today’s result.

Meanwhile, a couple of days after a vigorous defence of Vijay Shankar, the Indian cricket board has handed Rishabh Pant his World Cup debut today. The 21-year-old southpaw will bat at number four in place of Shankar.

England's Jonny Bairstow
England's Jonny Bairstow (C) reacts after an attempted stumping by India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni (REAR) as Yuzvendra Chahal (R) looks on. x Image Credit: England's Jonny Bairstow (C) reacts after an attempted stumping by India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni (REAR) as Yuzvendra Chahal (R) looks on. AFP

Five overs gone but hopes high!

After 5 overs: England are 28 for no loss, Bairstow is at 17 n.o. and Jason Roy 9 n.o.

Gulzar: The Indian team needs to keep the pressure on! Attacking the field with spinners to get maximum wickets. The English are not comfortable with slow bowling so keep attacking them with leg spinners. Getting early wickets is crucial to restrict England to low scores.

Saad: Good start by the English openers. Jayson Roy is looking good after his return from his injury and Jonny Bairstow is providing a solid start like he has been doing throughout the tournament. Not a positive sight for the subcontinent supporters but expecting a wicket in the next five!

Shahryar: Not a good start from India but it’s not a big problem. So far so good but if continues the same way, England can become a threat that I wasn’t anticipating!

Indian supporters
Indian supporters pose ahead of the start of the World Cup group stage match against England at Edgbaston in Birmingham, on June 30, 2019. Image Credit: AFP

Balaram: Currently, England are out of the top-four slots on the points table, sitting at number 5. While, India are just one point away from getting a place in the semis.

Gulzar: The superlative complexity of this match is reminding me of the movie Lagaan and of course, just like in the movie, I would want India to shine through!

Saad: Not an ideal start by Mohammad Shami to the game but glad India has Jasprit Bumrah to make up for it. After yesterday's nail biting finish by Pakistan, don’t want to see another game of highs and lows; hopefully India plays it safe!

Shahryar: The top five are very strong, England must be careful if they want to win but I definitely wouldn’t want that. England hasn’t performed extremely well throughout this tournament so I don’t have very high hopes from them. India’s excellent bowlers like Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah need to perform well. I think India can restrict the English very easily!

Gulzar: Pakistanis and Indians are uniting today! It’s great. It’s like the colonial times! Us against the British…. I’m definitely rooting for India this time, although I never thought I would! How times have changed!

Saad: We are relying on India for our [Pakistan’s] chances to progress in the World Cup. Let’s look at it this way: Decades after the British rule, the subcontinent is reuniting against them again, and I don’t mind – go Team India!

Shahryar: It helps us to support Indians, today, and that’s the reason we are supporting India. We need India to win, they have to win… for our chances to stay in the World Cup.

From Edgbaston: England have won the toss and elected to bat first. For India, Rishabh Pant came in for Vijay Shankar. While for England, Jason Roy replaced James Vince at the top and Liam Plunkett came in place of Moeen Ali.

General view of fans outside the stadium before the match at Edgbaston
General view of fans outside the stadium before the match at Edgbaston, Birmingham. Image Credit: Reuters


India: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Rishabh Pant, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Mohammed Shami, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Jasprit Bumrah

England: 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jonny Bairstow, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Chris Woakes, 8 Liam Plunkett, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Jofra Archer, 11 Mark Wood

When the first ball is bowled at Edgbaston in Birmingham today, die-hard fans of Pakistan will pray that India beats England at their round-robin league game of the cricket World Cup.

Yes – you read that right!

For once, cricket fans of the arch-rivals will unite to cheer for an Indian victory.

And all for a good reason: if India manage to knock England further down the World Cup points table, it will vastly improve Pakistan’s chances of qualifying for the semi-finals.

When the World Cup started, hosts England were widely tipped to be among the favorites.

But after a series of successive losses, England find themselves staring at an early ouster from the competition should they lose to India today.

And for once, that’s exactly what Pakistani fans want to happen today.

For Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma to shine with the bat.

For Hardik Pandya to hopefully improve his batting strike rate to the region of 400%.

And for Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami to demolish a fabled England batting line-up in a matter of overs.

The wish list, as one passionate Pakistani fan put it on Twitter, is simple when it comes to choosing sides: “Definitely neighbours ie India. We can choose our friends but not neighbours. India any day over colonial England.”

Another Pakistani fan, Nasir Ali, even invoked the Indian national anthem in reply to former England captain Nasser Hussain’s query on who they were supporting: “Jana Gana Mana Adhinayaka Jaya he Bharata Bhagya Vidhata.”

Patriotic fervour will also run high among Sarafraz Ahmed’s boys today – fresh from back to back victories against South Africa, New Zealand and last night’s cliffhanger against Afghanistan, Pakistan is waiting to roar back into the competition.

They can certainly do with a generous slice of help from India.

With that in mind, Gulf News brings you a unique perspective on the live game between India and England today – told from the perspective of eager Pakistan fans keen to see their team in the final four.

Pakistani expats and loyal Gulf News readers Gulzar Ahmad, Shahryar Shaikh and Saad Bin Khalid will provide the lowdown on the game as it progresses, with their hopes firmly pinned on an Indian victory.

Their passion for today’s game will be punctuated by expert commentary from our in-house Pakistan cricket coach Ashfaq Ahmed (alas, he is also the Associate Editor – Online!) and the final word from our in-house third umpire Balaram Menon (who occasionally doubles up as a Senior Web Producer). Presiding over the commentaries and moderating them will be our social media whizkid and Pakistan cheer-leader Falah Gulzar.

So how would you describe the spirit of this unique match?

As Pakistani cricket fan Rana Talha Asfar put it:

Divided by England in 1947, it’s cricket that has united India and Pakistan once again in 2019.