CWC19: Pakistan vs India – Five Things We Learned

What did we learn from the clash of these two great rivals?

This is the big one, at least if you are from India or Pakistan, or support the team, or just get on the hype train. The two teams get excited beyond words when they play each other at any time, but especially at a World Cup. Forget their rankings. All that matters is that India have never lost to Pakistan in a World Cup, and had a 5-0 record against them in World Cups. That record is now 6-0 after tonight’s 89 run drubbing.

India were well ahead from start to finish, scoring 334 and when rain came at the end of the 35th over Pakistan were 6/166 and needed 171 runs off the last 15 overs, at a difficult 11.40 runs per over. Par score, after 35 overs, with 6 wickets lost, was 252. Duckworth-Lewis had presumed that in the next 15 overs they could only manage 82. A fair enough assumption under the circumstances.

When rain abated, only 5 more overs were allowed. The target was set at 302. Duckworth-Lewis had assumed that, with 4 wickets in hand, Pakistan would only manage 32 more runs off their last 10, having scored 50 runs off those 5 overs. It was a strange calculation, one as mystifying as the 1992 “highest scoring overs” system that took South Africa’s target in their semi-final against England from 23 off 13 to 22 off 1. They were losing badly, but they still had a chance. So did Pakistan. But Duckworth-Lewis made sure that they lost.

At 6/212 with 10 overs to go and trying to score 337 for victory, needing 125 more off 10 overs, I would have thought that they were around 50 runs behind, not the 89 that Duckworth-Lewis suggested. The great crystal ball that is Duckworth-Lewis mystifies yet again. That target just felt wrong. It turned what might have been an exciting match into one that reeked of unfairness, and that’s not fair to either side.

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Five Things We Learned:

(1) Duckworth-Lewis sucks

I know, I know. It’s the best system we have. But it’s still not very good. Pakistan were an outside chance to win when rain came, but Duckworth-Lewis snuffed that out completely. 11.40 per over off 15 became 27.20 per over off 5. That’s beyond ridiculous. That’s a 6 off every ball. An exciting game was handed to India. However the system should be changed, it shouldn’t rob us of the exciting finish we had hoped for like this. I could have coped with a run rate required of 15, or even 18, heck, even 20 would be vaguely fair.

(2) Rain ruins everything

Even though play did resume, the contest didn’t. Sometimes rain reductions can make matches more exciting, but that wasn’t the case here. The stands emptied while rain was falling, as they knew that the Duckworth-Lewis system was going to hand India the win. On seeing the absurd target on the screen, Pakistan didn’t want to play, and India knew they couldn’t lose. After an over, the required run rate was more than 6 per ball. Even Yuvraj Singh couldn’t win it from there. When you require more than 6 runs per ball they should declare the match over. We had to watch the last 4 overs of utter boredom being played out. Rain washing it out would have been better.

(3) India are a long way ahead of Pakistan

It’s not just the World Cup curse that cost Pakistan the game – they are generally a long way behind India right now. They are losing outside of World Cups too, their ranking is lower, and in this World Cup they now sit in 9th position out of 10 while India sit in 3rd. While it was great that Pakistan had their upset win over the favourites England, they were a long way from repeating the dose here.

(4) Pakistan are on track to repeat 1992 though

Loss to West Indies, washout, win, loss, loss. That was the sequence in Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup win, and that has been the sequence for Pakistan in the 2019 World Cup so far. They just need to win all of their remaining matches, as they did in 1992. The dream is very much alive. It is unlikely, but that’s why we call this a fairy tale. It was certainly a shock in 1992 when they leapfrogged Australia and the West Indies to make the semi-finals. Perhaps they could do the same again. Right now Australia looks set to make the semi-finals and West Indies look set to barely miss it. It is possible that Pakistan will make it ahead of them both as they did in 1992. The dream is very much alive.

(5) Rohit Sharma when he goes he really goes

In the context of the match, 140 off 113 balls was incredible. His opening partner KL Rahul only managed 57 off 78. Their strike rates were 123 versus 73. It powered the innings. Rohit Sharma isn’t in perfect form and he had struggled before the World Cup, but he has now scored 122 not out, 57 and 140. This was his third-fastest century and he now sits second on the World Cup run-scoring list.

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