Azhar Mahmood has backed Hasan Ali to recover his form heading into Pakistan's crunch Cricket World Cup clash with New Zealand.

A 49-run triumph over South Africa on Sunday has given Pakistan hope of progressing into the last four, while victory for the Black Caps at Edgbaston will guarantee their place in the semi-finals.

Pakistan's win over South Africa came in spite of Hasan's absence, with the medium-fast bowler dropped following an expensive 1-84 in the heavy defeat to India on June 16.

Hasan – named player of the series in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy – has struggled throughout his four appearances at the tournament, taking just two wickets.

But Pakistan bowling coach Mahmood has no doubt the 24-year-old can raise his level as the group stage nears its conclusion.

"I think everyone in cricket, whether you're a batsman or a bowler, you have bad form," Mahmood told a news conference.

"I think he's having a bad form. He's low on his confidence. He's got self-doubt about his own ability.

"He's running in and working hard on and off the field. You can see that. But it's just a matter of getting two or three wickets, and he'll be back."

New Zealand have won all five of the completed games they have taken part in so far, while their match against India at Trent Bridge was abandoned.

And Mahmood has urged Pakistan to focus on their own strengths, rather than those of the Black Caps.

"They are a quality side," he added. "They've got matchwinners on their side.

"So, it's crucial for us to take a wicket with the new ball. And when we bat, we need to get runs up front.

"Our top three is the most important for us. If we do the basics right, it's just about us, not about them. We need to do our things right."

Pakistan must inflict New Zealand's first defeat at this year's Cricket World Cup on Wednesday if they are to keep their slim hopes of progression alive.

Sunday's victory over South Africa kept Pakistan in with a chance of making the semi-finals of the tournament, though they will realistically have to win their final three matches to do so.

In-form New Zealand are first up at Edgbaston before they take on Afghanistan in Leeds on Saturday and then Bangladesh at Lord's on July 5.

While Pakistan's hopes are hanging by a thread, the Black Caps have been in fine form and are on the brink of securing a top-four finish.

They have posted five victories so far, while they also picked up a point when their much-anticipated contest with India was washed out at Trent Bridge.

Captain Kane Williamson has been sensational with the bat, having followed up his 106 not out against South Africa with a sublime 148 - his highest ODI score to date - in a thrilling five-run victory over West Indies last time out.

If Pakistan are to better New Zealand, they will have to improve in the field. Both captain Sarfraz Ahmed and coach Mickey Arthur criticised the side's efforts against South Africa, despite the final result.

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

New Zealand were run close by West Indies on Saturday, with Carlos Brathwaite's last-over dismissal clinching victory.

They were also involved in tense finishes against Bangladesh and South Africa at The Oval and Edgbaston respectively, though had few problems dealing with Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

Pakistan, meanwhile, are mounting a recovery mission following their difficult start to the tournament.

Sarfraz's side followed up their opening defeat to West Indies by upsetting hosts England, but successive defeats to Australia and India left them needing two points against South Africa to keep themselves in with chance.

WHAT THEY SAID

Mitchell Santner on Kane Williamson's performances: "He's coming off two centuries, and the one against South Africa was pretty special. It didn't look as fluid, his innings, but that's what made it so good. He was there at the end when we needed him. Obviously it was his highest score in ODI cricket."

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood on facing New Zealand: They're definitely a very strong side. They won all of their games, so we know they're a strong side. If we can get our disciplines right, like we did last game - batting, bowling, and fielding - our ground fielding was really good, but unfortunately we dropped a lot of catches - we can beat any side."

OPTA FACTS

- Pakistan picked up a six-wicket win in their last ODI clash with New Zealand in November, ending a 12-game losing streak against the Black Caps.

- This will be the ninth World Cup meeting between New Zealand and Pakistan, who won six in a row between 1983 and 1999.

- New Zealand have won four of their seven completed ODI fixtures at Edgbaston, including a four-wicket victory over South Africa in this tournament.

- Ross Taylor is set to eclipse Nathan Astle (223) as the fifth-most capped player for New Zealand in ODI history.

Australia's hopes of defending their Cricket World Cup crown will face a strong test this week against England and table-toppers New Zealand.

All of Australia's five wins at this year's tournament have come against sides out of the semi-final places and their tough week begins against a wounded England on Tuesday.

The tournament favourites were stunned by Sri Lanka last time out and will be desperate to respond in a much-anticipated showdown at Lord's.

Another clash at the same venue will follow for Aaron Finch's men on Saturday, Australia set to play a New Zealand side who are yet to lose at the World Cup.

FIXTURES

Monday 24 June: Bangladesh v Afghanistan (the Rose Bowl) - 1030 BST start

Tuesday 25 June: England v Australia (Lord's) - 1030 

Wednesday 26 June: New Zealand v Pakistan (Edgbaston) - 1030

Thursday 27 June: West Indies v India (Old Trafford) - 1030

Friday 28 June: Sri Lanka v South Africa (The Riverside) - 1030

Saturday 29 June: Pakistan v Afghanistan (Headingley) - 1030, New Zealand v Australia (Lord's) - 1330

Sunday 30 June: England v India (Edgbaston) - 1030

 

THE WEEK'S BIG GAME

England's defeat to Sri Lanka on Friday gave hope to the chasing pack of sneaking into the semi-finals, when previously it looked as though the hosts, Australia, India and New Zealand would pull well clear of the rest. Were Eoin Morgan's side to lose again at Lord's on Tuesday, the likes of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan will feel they are in with a real chance, and Australia would dearly love to pile the pressure firmly on their Ashes foes.

STANDINGS

1. New Zealand - 11pts from 6 games, Net Run Rate +1.306
2. Australia - 10pts from 6 games, NRR +0.849
3. India - 9pts from 5 games, NRR +0.809
4. England - 8pts from 6 games, NRR +1.457
5. Sri Lanka - 6pts from 6 games, NRR -1.119
6. Bangladesh - 5pts from 6 games, NRR -0.407
7. Pakistan – 5pts from 6 games, NRR -1.265
8. West Indies - 3pts from 6 games, NRR +0.190
9. South Africa - 3pts from 7 games, NRR -0.324
10. Afghanistan - 0pts from 6 games, NRR -1.712

LEADING RUN-SCORERS

1: David Warner (Aus) - 447
2: Shakib Al Hasan (Ban) - 425
3: Joe Root (Eng) - 424

LEADING WICKET-TAKERS

=1: Jofra Archer (Eng), Mitchell Starc (Aus), Mohammad Amir (Pak) - 15

Faf du Plessis believes South Africa have failed to do themselves justice at the Cricket World Cup, after a 49-run defeat to Pakistan extinguished their semi-final hopes.

Defeats to England, Bangladesh, India and New Zealand had left South Africa needing a victory at Lord's on Sunday to stand any chance of securing progression to the last four.

But they never looked likely to threaten Pakistan's haul of 308-7, and the Proteas ultimately finished on 259-9.

Without the injured Dale Steyn, South Africa have failed to impress, and captain Du Plessis suggested a crisis in confidence is the reason for their meek displays.

"We're not playing well, not playing good cricket," Du Plessis, who scored 63, said at the post-match presentation.

"We're not doing ourselves justice as a team, with the skill that's in that dressing room.

"We started poorly with the ball and gave them a good start. And once again we made the same mistakes with the bat, guys getting in and then getting out.

"We need to have a good start but we haven't had that. We're losing a wicket early almost all of the time. That's been the nature through the tournament, the timing of the wickets.

"We're struggling with confidence, especially in our batting line-up. Confidence in sport is an amazing thing.

"When you're playing well, the ball just falls more for you. Our confidence is low after a few games and everything becomes a little bit more challenging, especially playing against a quality team like Pakistan."

One player who has impressed for South Africa is Imran Tahir, who became the Proteas' leading wicket-taker in World Cup history when he sent Iman-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman back to the pavilion.

"He has been amazing," Du Plessis said of Tahir. "He has been exceptional throughout this tournament, he's played with a lot of heart and he's led our bowling attack.

"He has been consistent in every game. But there hasn't been enough guys standing up like him and that's why we find ourselves in this position."

While South Africa will be heading home once the group stage is complete, Pakistan – who have games against New Zealand, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to come – have a glimmer of hope of making the semi-finals, though captain Sarfraz Ahmed concedes his side, who dropped several catches during the Proteas' innings, must improve in the field.

"We have to work hard on our fielding," Sarfraz said. "Again we dropped so many catches today, so we have to sort these things out to win against top teams."

South Africa were put out of their Cricket World Cup misery at Lord's, where the team's shortcomings at this tournament were exposed by Pakistan.

Pakistan may soon follow Sunday's opponents out of semi-final contention yet they eased to a 49-run victory, their 308-7 never under threat. South Africa finished on 259-9.

Defeats to England, Bangladesh, India and New Zealand put South Africa in a perilous position before this game. They have fixtures against Sri Lanka and Australia to come, but surely cannot get home soon enough now mathematical hopes of advancing from the group stage are over.

The South Africans edged Pakistan 3-2 in a home ODI series in January but their bowling - without the injured Dale Steyn - has failed to impress at the World Cup.

Pakistan chose to bat and openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman both made 44 before falling to Imran Tahir, who in the process became South Africa's leading wicket-taker in World Cup history. His 39 victims nudge Tahir ahead of Allan Donald.

Babar Azam scored 69 before Haris Sohail pummelled 89 from 59 balls, falling to the penultimate delivery of the innings when he slogged at Lungi Ngidi.

In reply, South Africa lost Hashim Amla to a duck at the start of the second over, Mohammad Amir given the lbw verdict after Pakistan went to a review.

And although Quinton de Kock and captain Faf du Plessis put on 87 for the second wicket, it was often slow going. De Kock went for 47 and Du Plessis for 63.

The scoreboard kept ticking over, the run rate kept climbing. South Africa were never at the races, typical of them in this ill-fated campaign.


PAKISTAN MUST KEEP BELIEVING

With matches against New Zealand, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to come, Pakistan could still squeeze into the semi-finals. Their batting performance was solid enough in this match, albeit against a largely impotent attack, and if Amir can put the brakes on Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Co. at Edgbaston on Wednesday, then New Zealand's unbeaten start could be under threat. They have a glimmer of hope now.

PROTEAS PAIN

Questions will be asked about where it all went wrong for South Africa. Dale Steyn's absence was a major blow to their hopes, but they began the tournament badly and lacked the guile to set the team back on a sure course. Will Du Plessis stay on as skipper? That is sure to come in for scrutiny, with Aiden Markram having been tipped in some quarters as a suitable replacement despite his struggles with the bat. The inquest can begin now.

Sarfraz Ahmed has pleaded with fans to stop abusing players as Pakistan continue to struggle at the Cricket World Cup.

Pakistan have won just one game at the tournament and sit second last in the standings, with Sunday's 89-run defeat to rivals India particularly painful for supporters.

Despite being with his child, Sarfaraz was abused in public in the aftermath of the India loss, an incident filmed and distributed on social media.

Other players have reportedly been abused, too, both in person and online.

Speaking ahead of Pakistan's clash against South Africa at Lord's on Sunday, Sarfraz said players were "affected psychologically" by such incidents.

"Social media and media are not in our control," he said.

"They are so big that you cannot stop them. Teams have lost before but now on social media it is unstoppable. Whoever thinks [anything, they just] write it on social media. That hurts, too much. Players are affected psychologically.

"Criticise us on our game, that's not an issue, but don't abuse us. Their families get affected. 

"Our fans are emotional and these same people lift us when we win. But if they feel sad on a defeat we also feel the same way.

"We feel it much more because we are playing for Pakistan."

A Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman added that players had been to told to "be cautious" given the past week.

"We have advised players to be aware of the situation and be cautious. It is not correct that we have barred them from going out as is projected in some parts of the media," a spokesman said.

Pakistan's next opponents have also won only one game at the World Cup, with South Africa also having struggled for form so far.

Beleaguered Pakistan and South Africa have no margin for error when they meet in a must-win Cricket World Cup match at Lord's on Sunday.

Pakistan and the Proteas are highly unlikely to feature in the semi-finals after winning just one match apiece.

The ICC Champions Cup holders will be smarting from a heavy defeat in a rain-affected match against arch-rivals India at Old Trafford last time out and could make changes, with Haris Sohail among the contenders to come into the side.

South Africa have also endured a miserable tournament, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson's magnificent unbeaten century consigning them to a four-wicket loss on Wednesday that left them all but eliminated.

Faf du Plessis says there will be an overhaul of the ODI squad after the World Cup and there may be changes in London this weekend, with the batting line-up having failed time and again.

The last four appears to be beyond reach for both sides, but they will be expected to try and salvage some pride this weekend after coming in for a barrage of criticism.

 

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

South Africa started with a defeat to England and have only beaten Afghanistan, also suffering injury blows along the way.

West Indies inflicted a heavy defeat on Pakistan in their opener and although they responded with a win over hosts England, that proved to be a false dawn.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Pakistan paceman Wahab Riaz: "Our focus is on beating South Africa, and we know we shouldn't get ahead or think about the future. [We need to focus] on what we do in the now and not what is happening elsewhere."

Proteas head coach Ottis Gibson: "We've still got three games to play and I'd like to think that we can at least play the way we know we can play. We haven't played like that, for whatever reason, but I'd like to think we can still do that."

 

OPTA FACTS

- South Africa have won three of their four World Cup matches between the two nations, but Pakistan came out on top in their last meeting in the competition four years ago.

- Pakistan have lost seven of their 11 ODI games at Lord's, while the Proteas have recorded one win in four attempts at the famous London ground.

- Imran Tahir needs to strike twice to become South Africa's leading World Cup wicket-taker. Allan Donald currently holds the record on 38.

Boxing star Amir Khan has offered to help Pakistan's ailing cricket team as they face a brutal World Cup KO. 

South Africa may have to win all of their remaining group-stage matches to earn a place in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals and Faf du Plessis' side face two tricky challenges this week.

The Proteas lost their first three games at this tournament, belatedly getting a point on the board with a washout against West Indies before picking up their first win thanks to a comfortable triumph over Afghanistan last week.

But things certainly do not get any easier for South Africa over the coming seven days, as they take on an unbeaten New Zealand and a mercurial Pakistan, who desperately need a win themselves following Sunday's resounding defeat to fierce rivals India.

Virat Kohli's side look the strongest all-round outfit in the competition and they should pick up another victory against Afghanistan, who also face hosts England in a tough week for the only team yet to claim a point.

 

FIXTURES

Monday 17 June:  West Indies v Bangladesh (Taunton) - 1030 BST start

Tuesday 18 June:  England v Afghanistan (Old Trafford) - 1030

Wednesday 19 June:  New Zealand v South Africa (Edgbaston) - 1030

Thursday 20 June:  Australia v Bangladesh (Trent Bridge) - 1030

Friday 21 June:  England v Sri Lanka (Headingley) - 1030

Saturday 22 June:  India v Afghanistan (the Rose Bowl) - 1030, West Indies v New Zealand (Old Trafford) - 1330

Sunday 23 June:  Pakistan v South Africa (Lord's) - 1030

 

THE WEEK'S BIG GAME

With over half their matches played and only three points to their name, South Africa can ill-afford any slip-ups. Their first assignment of the week comes against the Black Caps on Wednesday, in a repeat of the thrilling semi-final from four years ago that saw New Zealand squeeze through. If the Proteas can dish out a first defeat of the tournament to Kane Williamson's side, they will go into Sunday's clash against an erratic Pakistan with renewed hope of securing a top-four finish.

STANDINGS

1. Australia - 8pts from 5 games, Net Run Rate +0.812
2. New Zealand - 7pts from 4 games, NRR +2.163
3. India - 7pts from 4 games, NRR +1.029
4. England - 6pts from 4 games, NRR +1.557
5. Sri Lanka - 4pts from 5 games, NRR -1.778
6. West Indies - 3pts from 4 games, NRR +0.666
7. South Africa - 3pts from 5 games, NRR -0.208
8. Bangladesh - 3pts from 4 games, NRR -0.714
9. Pakistan - 3pts from 5 games, NRR -1.933
10. Afghanistan - 0pts from 4 games, NRR -1.638

 

LEADING RUN-SCORERS

1: Aaron Finch (Aus) - 343
2: Rohit Sharma (Ind) - 319
3: David Warner (Aus) - 281

 

LEADING WICKET-TAKERS

=1: Mohammad Amir (Pak), Mitchell Starc (Aus) - 13
2: Pat Cummins (Aus) - 11

Sarfraz Ahmed insists Pakistan must continue to back themselves even as their Cricket World Cup hopes grow slimmer by the day.

Pakistan lost a crunch clash with India by 89 runs on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern, leaving Sarfraz's side struggling on just three points from five matches.

The 1992 champions will now face a tall order to qualify for the semi-finals regardless of their remaining results, but Sarfraz is not ready to give up hope.

"It's definitely getting tougher and tougher but we have to back ourselves," the Pakistan captain said in the post-match presentation.

"We have four matches so we'll try our level best to win all four matches. I'm sure we will bounce back."

Sarfraz defended his tactics with the ball, despite seeing Rohit Sharma hit 140 in another superb batting display for India.

The Pakistan skipper explained: "We have a plan to bowl in the right areas - especially for Rohit, pitch up to the ball. But I thought we didn't hit the right areas.

"We won a good toss but didn't capitalise and that's why we conceded so many runs.

"If you see the pitch and the ball is turning, that's why we picked two spinners, because of the moisture. They bowled really well but credit goes to the Indian batting, especially the middle part - they're batting really well."

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is set to miss India's next two to three games at the Cricket World Cup after sustaining a hamstring injury against Pakistan.

India cruised to an 89-run win over their arch rivals at Old Trafford on Sunday, triumphing on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method as Pakistan could only reach 212-6 in a rain-affected run chase after Virat Kohli's side cruised to 336-5.

However, paceman Bhuvneshwar was forced to leave the field while bowling the fifth over of Pakistan's chase, with his replacement Vijay Shankar trapping Imam-ul-Haq lbw with his first ball.

India will be heavy favourites for their upcoming matches with Afghanistan and West Indies, and Bhuvneshwar is poised to miss those games, and potentially the blockbuster clash with hosts England at Edgbaston.

Speaking at the post-match presentation, captain Virat Kohli said of Bhuvneshwar's injury: "Slight niggle, it was because of slipping on the footmarks, so it doesn't look too serious at the moment.

"We're going to give it some time, hopefully he'll be ready in a couple of games, if not, max three games from now.

"He's going to be a very important factor for us so hopefully he can recover well in time. We've got [Mohammed] Shami ready and raring to go so we're not too worried about where the situation stands even after he got injured.

"I think the way the bowlers took responsibility was really good to see. Bhuvi should be fine, he feels the niggle is not too bad, time will heal it."

Rohit Sharma scored a sublime 140, becoming the fourth India player to tally 50-plus in five successive ODIs, recording partnerships of 136 and 98 with KL Rahul and Kohli, who reached 11,000 runs in the 50-over game in 54 fewer innings than Sachin Tendulkar en route to 77.

Kohli added: "The template's been really nice in the first three games, Rohit single-handedly playing that brilliant knock in the first [against South Africa], second [against Australia] was again a team batting effort, this one as well, Rohit's knock was outstanding but you could say to get 335, 340, 350 you need a team batting effort and that's what exactly what happened.

"KL set a good foundation with Rohit, then Rohit after getting to 75 was unstoppable and he showed why he's such a good ODI player again, then it allowed me to play a certain kind of role and Hardik [Pandya] can come in and explode, that's the kind of template we've followed and it's working now, it gives us a lot of solidity in the middle.

"I'm happy playing that role for the team, the other guys are doing their role perfectly. It's going really nicely."

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli enjoyed landmark days as India routed Pakistan to severely dent their rivals' Cricket World Cup hopes.

Unbeaten at this World Cup, with a washout against New Zealand the only game in which they have not taken maximum points, India demolished Pakistan by 89 runs on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern, with Rohit producing a sublime 140 to help India reach 336-5 at Old Trafford.

In doing so he became the fourth player to score 50 or more in five straight innings for India and compiled respective partnerships of 136 and 98 with KL Rahul (57) and Virat Kohli (77), who reached 11,000 ODI runs in his 222nd innings – 54 fewer than previous record holder Sachin Tendulkar.

Pakistan were initially solid if unspectacular in response, but perhaps the most unpredictable side in limited-overs cricket were unable to reproduce the kind of performance that saw them shock England in their only win of the tournament as they crumbled from 117-1 to 165-6.

Kuldeep Yadav removed the productive pairing of Babar Azam (48) and Fakhar Zaman (62). A brilliant delivery through the gate denied Babar a half-century before Fakhar gave the spinner his second scalp with an ill-advised sweep.

Pakistan's middle order wilted in the face of quick bowling from all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar, leaving the tail with a mountainous test they were never likely to pass. 

Hardik took two wickets in two balls and Shankar followed up the dismissal of Imam-ul-Haq, which he claimed first ball upon replacing Bhuvneshwar Kumar after he went off with hamstring tightness, by bowling Sarfraz Ahmed.

Rain that had briefly delayed the conclusion of India's innings arrived again, with the stoppage leading to the bizarre spectacle of Pakistan needing 136 off five overs when they returned for a near-impossible chase of a revised 40-over target of 302.

India moved up to third and remain on course for the semi-finals ahead of a meeting with winless Afghanistan, while Pakistan's fading hopes will hinge heavily on their forthcoming clash with South Africa.

ROHIT GIVEN HELPING HAND

Rohit has not needed any assistance during his superb run of form, but he made the most of a pair of huge let-offs early in his latest exhibition of batting prowess as Pakistan missed two run-out opportunities in successive overs.

First Fakhar threw to the wrong end as Rohit made the rash decision to run two, and Shadab Khan then missed with his throw when a direct hit would have seen the opener out on 38.

He went on to reach his century in just 85 balls and hit 14 fours and three maximums before flicking Hasan Ali to short leg.

In scoring five successive ODI fifties for India Rohit joins the elite company of Tendulkar, Ajinkya Rahane and Kohli, who reached 11,000 runs with a glanced four but made the bemusing decision to walk despite getting no top-edge to an attempted hook off Mohammad Amir.

FAKHAR AGAIN AT FAULT

Any hopes Pakistan had of completing a difficult chase went with the exits of Babar and Fakhar.

There was little Babar could do to avoid being clean bowled by a stunner from Kuldeep, but Fakhar's top-edged sweep that presented Yuzvendra Chahal with a dolly was poorly judged and poorly executed.

That set in motion a dismal collapse from Pakistan, for whom the DLS scoreline of their seventh defeat in as many World Cup games with India was flattering.

Ultimately, the most eagerly awaited fixture at the 2019 Cricket World Cup ended in a comfortable win for favourites India against their fiercest foes Pakistan.

This – at a raucous, rowdy and sometimes rainy Old Trafford – was a triumph for cold, calm efficiency over a more impassioned, excitable approach.

Ahead of Sunday's momentous meeting in Manchester, India captain Virat Kohli faced the media and repeatedly played down the size of the occasion, insisting he and his squad would treat it no differently to any other ODI.

"In our minds, nothing changes according to the opposition," he said on Saturday. "We're only focused on playing the type of cricket we're known for, not singling out any player from the opposition or focusing more on one particular player than the other."

Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur, meanwhile, took an altogether different tack.

"It doesn't get bigger," he told his news conference. "It doesn't get more exciting. I'm telling our players in the dressing room, you could be a hero.

"Your careers are going to be defined by a moment in the game. You do something incredible, you'll be remembered forever."

One can understand Arthur's attempts to fire up his erratic side; India-Pakistan games come around all too infrequently, but Kohli sensed no such need to issue a similar rallying cry.

And those opposing attitudes were borne out when the action got under way as India set about ruthlessly compiling a total of 336-5 that Pakistan never looked likely to reach, even when Bhuvneshwar Kumar exited with a hamstring injury after he had sent down just 2.4 overs.

Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam briefly threatened to heed Arthur's words and attain hero status, but when Kuldeep Yadav accounted for both and Hardik Pandya ousted Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik from successive balls, Pakistan had lost four for 12 and eventually toiled to 212-6 following a rain break, leaving them well short of their DLS target.

Under overcast skies, Sarfraz Ahmed had opted to put Kohli's side in to bat and one could sense Pakistan's desperation to make best use of seemingly favourable conditions – such anxiety perhaps the result of having lost all six previous World Cup meetings with their neighbours.

But while Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul set about their task with quiet confidence, Pakistan grew increasingly ragged.

Rohit ought to have been run out twice in successive overs while he was still in the 30s – misses that proved decidedly costly as the opener cruised to an almost effortless century off 85 balls before perishing for 140.

Pakistan, by contrast, were looking ever more agitated. Wahab Riaz and Sarfraz were unhappy to see the left-armer warned for running on the pitch, while a number of fumbles in the outfield prompted double-teapots aplenty among the men in green as the relentless Rohit accumulated his runs.

Rohit's knock was a clinic in punishing poor bowling, and even his departure only cleared the stage for Kohli to claim a slice of history.

His fluent 77 saw him pass 11,000 ODI runs in his 222nd innings, usurping Sachin Tendulkar as the fastest man to that milestone. The Little Master needed 276.

Kohli's achievement was met with an almighty roar from the hordes of India supporters, who outnumbered their counterparts by perhaps four to one and were encouraged by their captain to become fully swept up in the occasion, in contrast to the message sent to his players.

"Look, I can't tell the fans to think of the game in a particular manner," Kohli had said. "For us, it's a professional approach to the game, which is most important.

"They [fans] should enjoy the atmosphere. They should enjoy the occasion the way they want to and the way it's been enjoyed for years, but the players obviously have to maintain the mindset we have for years approaching any kind of game."

Kohli certainly saw both of those wishes granted. The Bharat Army revelled in a resounding win over their great rivals in the stands, while on the field India's cold, calculated charge towards the World Cup semi-finals continued unchecked.

Vijay Shankar was called into emergency action by India following Bhuvneshwar Kumar's injury and claimed the wicket of Imam-ul-Haq with his first ball.

Chasing 337 for victory in the crunch Cricket World Cup clash at Old Trafford, Pakistan were 13-0 with two balls left of the fifth over when Bhuvneshwar was forced to leave the field.

The seamer did not seem in undue discomfort as he walked back to the changing room, with captain Virat Kohli calling on Shankar to send down the remaining deliveries in the over.

And Shankar – selected in the side as a replacement for the injured Shikhar Dhawan – trapped Imam lbw to give India an early breakthrough.

It was just the all-rounder's third ODI wicket in his 10th appearance, having picked up two in a match against Australia in Nagpur in March.

Rohit Sharma's commanding 140 put India firmly on top against Pakistan as Virat Kohli's side racked up 336-5 at a deafening Old Trafford.

Sunday's encounter between the two fierce rivals was the most eagerly anticipated of this Cricket World Cup and Rohit thrived on the grandest of stages.

After India were put in by Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Rohit combined in a first-wicket stand of 136 with KL Rahul, who made 57 having been promoted to open due to Shikhar Dhawan's injury-enforced absence.

Once Rahul departed, Rohit brought up his second century of the tournament – following his unbeaten 122 against South Africa – off just 85 deliveries, featuring nine fours and three sixes.

He found the ropes five more times before eventually flicking Hasan Ali to short fine-leg to end his 113-ball stay, a dismissal which allowed Kohli to take centre stage.

A glanced four took the India captain to 11,000 ODI runs, reaching the milestone in his 222nd innings – 54 fewer than previous record holder Sachin Tendulkar.

Kohli made 77 off 65 - bizarrely opting to walk despite getting no top-edge to an attempted hook off Mohammad Amir - as even a late rain interruption did little to halt the momentum of India, seeking to extend their perfect World Cup record against Pakistan to seven wins from seven matches.

Page 1 of 19
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.