Rohit Sharma century leaves Pakistan needing record chase

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Rohit Sharma celebrates reaching his century (Martin Rickett/PA)

Rohit Sharma’s sparkling 140 from 113 balls underpinned India’s 336 for five and left arch-rivals Pakistan requiring a record World Cup chase at a raucous Old Trafford.

With a global televised audience of around one billion watching the highly-anticipated fixture, Pakistan squandered two excellent opportunities to run out Rohit and the India opener was not so hospitable.

He found the boundary rope on 17 occasions, clearing it three times, while KL Rahul (57) and Virat Kohli (77) also rose to the occasion in a frenzied atmosphere in which every four or six was greeted with deafening roars.

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur had challenged his players to “do something incredible (and) be remembered forever” and now it is up to the batsmen to overhaul a total no team has done before in this tournament.

After inviting India to bat first in overcast conditions, Pakistan’s bowlers – with the notable exception of Mohammad Amir (three for 47), who, alongside Wahab Riaz, was twice warned for encroaching on the pitch – lacked a cutting edge.

But it was a carelessness in the field that saw Rohit twice reprieved when he was in his 30s after he and KL Rahul, deputising for the injured Shikhar Dhawan, had made an efficient if unspectacular start.

Fakhar Zaman inexplicably threw to the non-striker’s end when Rohit was stranded coming back for a second run while the India batsman was well short of his ground as he attempted a quick single only to be let off by Shadab Khan’s errant throw.

Rohit Sharma was in brilliant form against Pakistan
Rohit Sharma was in brilliant form against Pakistan (Martin Rickett/PA)

To compound Shadab’s mistake, Rohit dispatched a full toss from the leg-spinner for six before cutting him for four to move to a 34-ball fifty.

Rahul was in Rohit’s slipstream but he, too, went past 50 before miscuing Wahab, coming round the wicket after being reprimanded by the umpire, to short cover on 55.

That brought Kohli to the crease to a cacophony of cheers though the top-ranked batsman in one-day internationals was initially happy for Rohit to accelerate, rotating the strike with aplomb.

Rohit fenced at a wider delivery from the expensive Hasan Ali to move into the 90s with a six before bringing up his 24th ODI ton and second against Pakistan off 85 balls with a dab into the covers.

His fourth ODI double ton beckoned but a scoop off Hasan found the grateful hands of Wahab at short fine leg – though that merely set the stage for Kohli, who moved past 11,000 ODI runs, to up the ante.

Particularly strong down the ground and through the covers, Kohli took India beyond 300 but perished shortly after a rain delay after seemingly getting a feather to a bouncer from Amir, who had earlier snared Hardik Pandya and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Kohli walked even though Ultraedge did not detect a nick but it mattered little as India charged towards an imposing total – the highest in ODIs on this ground.

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