Champions Trophy: India leave rivals Pakistan to face home wrath

Pakistan 165 India 102-2 (India win by 8 wkts - D/L method)


Welcome to cricket Edgbaston style. Two nations, who have conducted four wars, were transfixed by a match that meant everything and nothing. Just when it seemed the only winner would be this travesty of an English summer, India completed a one-sided, eight-wicket victory over Pakistan.

They will harden as favourites for the Champions Trophy, but Pakistan’s retreat, after three unconvincing performances, will be ignominious. The rain which caused four interruptions will not rescue them from the wrath of their public. A 50th one-day defeat by India will chafe and offend.

Despite the frustrations of what was, in any case, a dead rubber, the occasion had a life-affirming innocence. Nuclear neighbours with a dangerous sense of intransigence were confronted by a unifying passion. Political enmity and cross- border tension were replaced by weather-generated melancholia.

The abbreviated match was set to teeth-decaying Europop and eardrum-destroying Dhol drums. Insults were issued and accepted with a smile, in the knowledge that this was a rare chance for British Asians to celebrate their heritage. 

Compared to the reverberation of the rivalry between India and Pakistan, the Ashes psychodramas pale into irrelevance. A football match between Argentina and Brazil is a minor skirmish and a Glasgow derby between Rangers and Celtic represents a little local difficulty.

In terms of the size of the audience, this was the biggest sports event of the British summer. Birmingham, on a day of bizarre climatic contrasts, was the centre of the universe for an unseen throng, a billion strong.

Cricket in England lacks the sporting significance it has in the subcontinent. The Ashes are wonderful theatre, the perfect platform for the Australians’ inferiority complex, yet a home defeat will be an irritation rather than a national trauma.

Yesterday, supporters shared top billing with icons who shouldered the burdens of nationhood. Their lack of inhibition gave the contest substance and context. The South Asian version of the Mexican wave was manic, with Pakistan and Indian flags forming a multicoloured blur.

Tickets had been sold out in under an hour, but the usual rabble of touts were ignored. Constant chants of  “Zindabad Pakistan” – “Forever Pakistan” or “Long Live Pakistan” depending on the translation one accepts – were answered by more familiar, earthy refrain: “Who are ya?”  It could almost have been Villa Park, down the road. Almost. India’s self-styled Swami Army outnumbered their counterparts, although many stewards wore Pakistan shirts beneath high-visibility jackets. Each boundary, celebrated with the intensity of a winning goal at an FA Cup final, unleashed a riptide of celebration around the old ground.

Despite the similarities, there are inherent inequalities. India came into the Champions Trophy primed by the aggression and disciplines of the IPL. Pakistan arrived burdened by the restrictions of four years as global gypsies. The security situation ensures this was the nearest many of their players have got to playing before a home crowd.

The ICC, like the weather, which ranged from high cloud to driving rain and piercing sunlight, couldn’t make up their mind. They originally signalled that the game would be reduced to 30 overs apiece, before adding another 10 overs.

There was something bleakly predictable about Pakistan’s failure to bat out their allocation. Their total of 165, increased to an initial 168 under the arcane Duckworth Lewis regulations, was never going to be enough. India fielded with spirit and athleticism. They bowled with guile and intelligence. There was a whiff of Bollywood, more than a hint of hero worship as Pakistan lost their last six wickets for 34 runs in 9.4 overs.

Four bowlers, distinctive but deadly, each took two wickets. Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck either side of the initial rain delay. Ravichandran Ashwin was rewarded for extracting turn and bounce, and Ishant Sharma, whose mane of dark hair gave him the air of a model in a shampoo commercial, was quick and insistent.

But the real star was a physically insubstantial man with an unlikely nickname. Ravindra Jadeja, christened “Rockstar” by Shane Warne, has been a pivotal figure in this tournament. His left-arm spin, delivered with venom and variety, caught the eye.

All that remained was for Shikar Dhawan to exude star quality as India chased down a target which was reduced from 168 to 157 and, finally, 102 in 22 overs. The left-handed opener, with his waxed moustache and raffish, raised collar, represents the new generation. He cemented his status as the tournament’s lead scorer, making 48 from 41 before perishing in the deep.

That was a minor inconvenience because India required only 39 runs to win from an allocation of 63 balls, following the final rain interruption. They got them with 17 deliveries to spare in mocking sunshine. The closing soundtrack was provided by the dancing dervishes, who exude a pride which cannot be matched.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas