India's captain Virat Kohli
India's captain Virat Kohli (C) embraces Pakistan's Imad Wasim (left) after their victory. Image Credit: AFP

It was a very entertaining game tonight, but ultimately it was India’s. Their mammoth target of 336 was finally too tall for Pakistan to overcome. What really swung the game India’s way? Our cricket panel has this final takeaway:


Pakistan's Mohammad Amir and Sarfaraz Ahmed
Pakistan's Mohammad Amir and Sarfaraz Ahmed celebrate the wicket of India's MS Dhoni. Image Credit: Reuters

India got off to a good start and sustained the tempo until the 15th over. But once Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim got their act together, rather their lengths right, the spin duo applied the break on the Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul, whose scoring rate was brought down as low as 3.5 runs in a five-over period. But Sarfaraz Ahmad, who defied the suggestion of Pakistan Prime Minister and the World Cup-winning skipper Imran Khan’s suggestion to bat first after winning the toss, made another error to fritter away the initiative.

Instead of extending the spell of Imad and Shadab and put more pressure on the openers or even bring his strike bowlers to get the breakthrough, the Pakistan skipper turned towards part-time spinners Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malek in the 22nd and 23rd overs, which both yielded 11 runs each. The Indians regained their rhythm and got back into the groove and never looked back until Pakistan reined in the Indians in the final four overs. However, the Indians, by time, have scored enough runs on the board that it did not matter them much and had gone way past Pakistan’s grasp.


India's Kuldeep Yadav celebrates the wicket of Pakistan's Babar Azam
India's Kuldeep Yadav celebrates the wicket of Pakistan's Babar Azam. Image Credit: Reuters

Of course India put some very precious runs on board. But Kuldeep Yadav’s brilliant – if unplayable – breakthrough of the well-settled Babar Azam and later Fakhar Zaman decisively swerved the game away from Pakistan and triggered a middle order collapse from which they never recovered.


India's Rohit Sharma celebrates his century with Virat Kohli
India's Rohit Sharma celebrates his century with Virat Kohli. Image Credit: Reuters

Rohit Sharma’s century decided India’s match against archrivals Pakistan. His 24th ODI ton ensured that India piled up 336. The target was very stiff and brought on inmense pressure. Although Pakistan coped well initially, the middle overs was always going to be tricky. A double strike from Kuldeep Yadav did just and Pakistan never recovered. As in the past, the match never looked like a high-voltage clash.


Pakistan's Mohammad Amir
Pakistan's Mohammad Amir, right, gestures towards India's captain Virat Kohli, left, during the match. Image Credit: AP

As expected Pakistan keeps it record of not winning India in a world cup match. But this time, the performance was way below expectations. Rightly so, there were no superstars in the Pakistan team. There was no Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Misbha-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Younus Khan or Mohammad Yousaf to turn the game around. It was a pathetic performance with both bat and ball and fielding as usual was again far below average. Two missed run outs of the start batsman Rohit Sharma who went on smash a superb century, cost Pakistan dearly. In fact, Pakistan lost the match when Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed put India to bat even after winning the toss. With this loss, Pakistan is also its way out of the World Cup. It’s time for Pakistan put their heads together and come up with a winning combination.


India's Kuldeep Yadav (R) leaps into the air
India's Kuldeep Yadav (R) leaps into the air as he celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan's Babar Azam. Image Credit: AFP

At the end of it all, the rains may have played the fall guy from time to time but was not the overall spoilsport. Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed may be pilloried for choosing to field after what seemed like a good toss to win – but he knew the limitations of his team’s batting and felt their chances lay in getting early breakthroughs in Indian top order. Once Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Lokesh Rahul saw through the early spells of Mohammad Amir and Hassan Ali, the Men in Blue had seized the intiative and skipper Virat Kohli carried it forward. There was a piece of resistance from Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman – but all it needed was a breakthrough and Kuldeep Yadav provided that with a one which turned and bounced awkwardly.

Leslie Wilson Jr: LACK OF STRATEGY

Pakistan's Imad Wasim
Pakistan's Imad Wasim (R) reacts after delivering a ball as India's K.L. Rahul runs between the wickets. Image Credit: AFP

Pakistan were always going to struggle against an Indian team full of self-belief and ability. Two qualities that they were woefully lacking in the game, the 132rd between the sub-continental neighbours. The foundation of this Virat Kholi-led Indian squad is built on the philosophy that they can actually go all the way and even win the ICC Cricket World Cup. One-day cricket requires great attention to strategy and keeping the pressure on the opponent. More pressure and more frustration is forced. Which is what happened at the Old Trafford on Sunday and what I believe broke the energy and spirit of a Pakistan team, otherwise known for its spirit and resilience.