COLOMBO: Rain on Sunday forced a blockbuster clash between India and Pakistan into a reserve day after just 24.1 overs of play in the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup.
India will resume on 147-2 on Monday in the 50-over contest after rain abruptly ended their innings following Pakistan’s decision to bowl first in Colombo.
An extra day was a last-minute addition to the Super Four clash — the only game to get the advantage other than the final — after a previous group meeting between the two teams was washed out due to rain in Pallekele.
Rain in Sri Lanka, who co-host the tournament alongside Pakistan, has put the organisers in a spin. The tournament is a precursor to the upcoming ODI World Cup.
Virat Kohli, on eight, and KL Rahul, on 17, were batting when rain forced the players off and groundstaff worked tirelessly to try and restart the game after showers stopped.
After three inspections and fans helped to dry wet patches, the umpires looked like restarting play after over four hours of stoppage, but rain came to have the final say.
Skipper Rohit Sharma (56) and fellow opener Shubman Gill (58) gave India a blazing start in a stand of 121 off 100 balls to put Pakistan on the backfoot.
The batsmen took on the new-ball pair of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah with aerial shots in the powerplay when only two fielders are allowed outside the inner circle.
Both Shaheen and Naseem looked menacing in their first spell as the ball kept flying past the bat, and one edge from Gill went between two slips.
Rohit smashed leg-spinner Shadab Khan for two sixes and a four off successive balls in a 19-run over to raise the noise of the Indian fans at a largely empty stadium.
Shadab redeemed himself after the first drinks interval to send back Rohit caught out, and Shaheen returned to get Gill in the next over.
Scoring dipped as Kohli and Rahul looked to rebuild before rain intervened.
Play will begin at 3pm local time (GMT 09.30) on Monday with weather forecasts predicting another rainy day.
The reserve day also means relentless cricket for India, who will meet hosts Sri Lanka in their next Super Four match on Tuesday at the same venue.
Coach’s of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh had raised concerns over preferential treatment given to an India-Pakistan clash.
The matches involving Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the Super Fours will have points shared if rain washes out play.
The final of the tournament will be played on Sept 17 with a reserve day available in case of rain.
R. Sharma c Faheem b Shadab 56
S. Gill c Salman b Shaheen 58
V. Kohli not out 8
K.L. Rahul not out 17
EXTRAS (W-8) 8
TOTAL (for two wickets, 24.1 overs) 147
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-121 (Sharma), 2-123 (Gill)
STILL TO BAT: I. Kishan, H. Pandya, R. Jadeja, K. Yadav, S. Thakur, M. Siraj, J. Bumrah
BOWLING: Shaheen 5-0-37-1 (1w), Naseem 5-1-23-0 (1w), Faheem 3-0-15-0, Haris 5-0-27-0 (2w), Shadab 6.1-1-45-1
PAKISTAN: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf.
Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2023