2015 ICC World Cup: Ashwin leads India to easy win

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February 28, 2015

Brief Scorecard: India 104 for 1 (Rohit 57*) beat UAE 102 (Anwar 35, Ashwin 4-25) by 9 wickets

India gave their fans at the WACA plenty of reason to cheer, India vs United Arab Emirates, World Cup 2015, Group B, Perth, February 28, 2015 © Getty Images

February 28, 2015

Brief Scorecard: India 104 for 1 (Rohit 57*) beat UAE 102 (Anwar 35, Ashwin 4-25) by 9 wickets

India gave their fans at the WACA plenty of reason to cheer, India vs United Arab Emirates, World Cup 2015, Group B, Perth, February 28, 2015 © Getty Images

PERTH, AUSTRALIA: A day before the game against India, Mohammad Tauqir had proclaimed loudly, with conviction, that his side wouldn’t be intimidated by “their names or their status”. United Arab Emirates might not have been overawed but they sure were overrun by an Indian juggernaut that, despite not firing at full potential, was far too powerful for its beleaguered opponents.

Rocked and softened by the kind of sustained pace and bounce they aren’t accustomed to, UAE were then teased and tormented by spin, again of the quality they haven’t encountered too often. If the first threatened limb, the second asked questions of technique and application. UAE, sadly, had no convincing answers as Saturday’s (February 28) World Cup Group B match unspooled into a comprehensively one-sided no-contest.

Just about the only thing that went right for UAE was the toss, Tauqir opting to bat after calling correctly in the hope that without the pressure of a chase, his batsmen would be able to post a reasonable score to extend the match as long into the evening as possible. That hope was singularly misplaced as UAE lasted just 31.3 overs and 129 minutes before being shot out for 102 by clinical rather than outstanding India. It was UAE’s lowest World Cup score and the lowest score by any team against India in the World Cup.

Umesh Yadav had set himself up as the early enforcer but the wrecker in chief was R Ashwin, positively outstanding with his mesmeric guile on his way to 4 for 25 from ten unchanged overs, his best figures in ODI cricket.

R Ashwin finished with 4 for 25, his first four-for in ODIs, India v United Arab Emirates, World Cup 2015, Group B, Perth, February 28, 2015

The day’s other encounter, the Tasman Derby, had lasted just 55.3 overs as New Zealand pulled off a one-wicket thriller in Auckland. This game was done and dusted in 50.2 overs as India, chasing for the first time in three games, hurtled to 104 for 1 in 18.5 overs. The nine-wicket win, India’s seventh on the trot in World Cup play, has all but mathematically sealed their place in the quarterfinals.

Shikhar Dhawan, again looking a million dollars, fell to an extraordinary overhead catch by Rohan Mustafa leaping at point, but Rohit Sharma played himself back into the runs and Virat Kohli delighted a small audience – the WACA, with a capacity in the region of 24,000, was no more than a third full – against an enterprising attack with Manjula Guruge the most impactful.

Mohammad Naveed worked up decent speeds and Guruge slanted the ball across Rohit with his left-arm-over angle, but apart from a few minor hiccups, India were hardly troubled. Rohit used the muscular pull with as much effect as the delicate caress through covers his way to a dazzling half-century. When he danced in on Dhawan’s fall, Kohli received the loudest applause if you discount the cheers when UAE touched 50 – by which time they were five down – and he didn’t let his admirers down with a beautiful cameo.

It wasn’t so much that UAE capitulated without a fight, as the fact that they seemed reluctant to think on their feet, that was disappointing. Some of the stroke selection was iffy, and once they realised how the ball was taking off from the hard WACA strip, it was as if they were reconciled to a quick capitulation and an early finish.

A decent show against India would have added greater credibility to their recent run, when they stretched Zimbabwe and Ireland before suffering heartbreak in both matches. Even in their heart of hearts, they wouldn’t have fancied their chances of pulling off an upset, but they would have hoped for a combative, competitive display.

Only Shaiman Anwar, who conjured a special ton in the previous game against Ireland, took on India’s bowlers with any confidence and authority. Playing some spectacular strokes, he showcased his attacking instincts, a pull off Mohit Sharma that sped past square-leg clearly the pick of his six fours. He top-scored with an attractive 35 and added 31 for the last wicket with Guruge to push UAE past three figures, small consolation on a day when their top order was happy to play into the opposition’s hands.

Andri Berenger succumbed to the pull in Yadav’s first over, clearly done for pace as the ball was on him long before the batsman and the bat had got into position. It didn’t appear as if his opening partner had been watching, because Amjad Ali fell in similar fashion.

Yadav, a little up-and-down coming into this game, needed this performance for confidence, as much as anything else. Never mind if the opposition was clearly out of its depth, this spell will do his morale a world of good. He was pacy – at times going past the 147kph mark – and his short deliveries were on the money as he harried the batsmen and kept pushing them on to the back foot, physically and mentally.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni took him off after an excellent opening burst of 5-2-7-1, happy to see Yadav slip into the pace leader’s role in the injury enforced absence of Mohammed Shami. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shami’s replacement, wasn’t his usual niggardly self. The rust of not having played too much cricket of late showed as he sprayed the ball around a fair bit. There was a little bit of swing for him on a windy afternoon and he did produce the occasional well directed bouncer, but he has bowled far better and he will bowl far better in future, with game time under his belt.

Ashwin, though, was positively outstanding from the time he came on in the 11th over. He was always an excellent candidate to have a good outing at the WACA; coming into this match in the kind of rhythm that he has slipped into, he shut out all escape routes for the batsmen. His victims included the India-born duo of Krishna Chandran and Swapnil Patil, both of them at sea as they groped and poked uncertainly.

Throughout the World Cup, Ashwin has been in brilliant bowling form. He found some reward against South Africa in the last match, and more riches came on Saturday as UAE’s batsmen just couldn’t work him out. There was the classical offspinner, the straighter one, the near seam-up outswinger, as Ashwin slowed the ball up and held it in the air longer; he got bounce and turn too.

India were a little sloppy with the ball and less than electric in the field, but that was almost inevitable considering they were barely stretched. Suresh Raina held three catches but would be kicking himself for the one that went down at slip – not expensive, but definitely a personal slight. Generally, though, India made sure they didn’t take their foot off the pedal, quite an accomplishment that given the complete lack of threat from heavily overmatched opponents.


Courtesy: Wisden India