One hundred and twelve minutes of intense action, followed by almost four hours’ agonising wait, ended up with rain emerging as the winner in the high-octane Asia Cup clash between India and Pakistan for the second weekend in succession.
However, unlike in Pallekele last Saturday, the teams will resume the Super 4s clash on Monday, with India placed at 147 for two in 24.1 overs. Virat Kohli and K.L. Rahul — who was drafted in only because Shreyas Iyer hurt his back minutes before the toss — will resume India’s innings at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Monday afternoon.
With a reserve day having been added at the eleventh hour only for the marquee clash, it will be interesting to see if a maximum of about 76 overs’ play is possible on Monday. Had the game resumed on Sunday night after a heavy downpour — that lasted over an hour and a half and took as much time for the groundstaff to make the ground playable — it would have been a shortened game.
But just when the umpires were walking out for a final inspection, the skies opened up again at 8.30 p.m. and the game was suspended at 8.45 p.m.
Earlier in the afternoon, however, under a scorching sun, India captain Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill reigned supreme against Pakistan’s pace battery in an entertaining duel.
Rohit flicked Shaheen Shah Afridi off the last ball of the opening over for a six over square-leg. Gill took the cue in Afridi’s next over, showing his class with punches. He repeated the three boundaries in the fifth over as well, including an aerial drive over mid-on after charging down the wicket.
While Afridi was hammered for 31 runs in his three overs, Naseem Shah bowled an exceptional spell from the other end. Neither Rohit, who went into a defensive mode, nor Gill could find an answer to counter Naseem. Had Iftikhar Ahmed and Agha Salman not been ball-watching at the first and second slip, respectively, in the eighth over, Gill’s edge could have been caught and Naseem deservingly rewarded.
Gill continued to score freely from the other end. As if he was waiting for spin, Rohit exploded once Shadab Khan’s leg-spin was introduced. The 9 balls he faced off Shadab in his first two overs fetched Rohit a whopping 28 runs, with Rohit clearing the field easily.
It resulted in both Rohit and Gill having notched up their fifties, with India in control. However, moments after the drinks break, Rohit miscued an inside-out drive and Faheem Ashraf took an excellent catch running in to his left from long-off.
In the next over, Gill was deceived by Afridi’s leg-cutter and Salman did not falter at covers. It meant Kohli and Rahul had to be cautious for a while. Just when Rahul appeared to get his touch back did the skies open up. And even before the groundstaff could cover the outfield, three wet patches in the outfield had developed due to the heavy downpour that prevented any further play.
India: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Agha Salman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf.