Perth: By winning the toss and choosing to bat first, UAE put to rest all the speculation there might have been around what kind of monstrous total India might post, but they collected undesired milestones nonetheless. Playing for the first time on what is reputed to be the fastest pitch in the world, UAE struggled against the extra bounce available to the quicks and spinners alike. Ashwin registered his best figures in an ODI, and UAE stumbled to their lowest total in ODIs and the lowest against India in a World Cup match by any side. Rohit Sharma’s half-century, and his 75-run partnership with Virat Kohli ensured there were no hiccups along the way. That it took 21 matches, and a pitch that can surprise even the best of them, for the first wipe-out of a lesser-established nation is testimony that more, and not less, is good.
And UAE had given a much better account of themselves until they ran into the combination of an in-form team and the WACA Ground. Here they looked off pace. The openers both fell to bouncers from India’s new-ball bowlers Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the latter playing in the absence of the injured Mohammed Shami. Introduced at 28 for 2 in the 11th over, Ashwin proved to be a class above the UAE batsmen.
With his second ball, Ashwin brought into play MS Dhoni’s famed leg slip, with Krishna Chandran gloving one down leg. The arm-ball soon made it four down with Swapnil Patil edging it to Shikhar Dhawan at first slip. UAE’s best batsman Khurram Khan, too, felt handcuffed against Ashwin’s guile, and played a low-percentage sweep to make it 44 for 5 in the 17th over.
It was now down to how much the habitual rescuer Shaiman Anwar could put on with the tail for company, and whether Ashwin would get a maiden five-for. Anwar couldn’t add much although his 35 took UAE past 100, and the lack of a short leg in his final over against the No. 11 batsman denied Ashwin a five-for.
India began their chase with more than an hour before the supper break, but didn’t display the adventurous streak of New Zealand who have met three such opportunities with gusto and an eye at ending the match even before the break. The start was watchful with India taking only 10 off the first four overs. Shikhar Dhawan’s run of form ended with a sharp gully catch by Rohan Mustafa, but his demise only hastened the end with Rohit and Kohli batting more fluently on the day.
India went into the break at 88 for 1 with Rohit unbeaten on 47, but asked for a Powerplay immediately on their return from the sheds. India missed out on beating their biggest win – with 231 balls remaining against Kenya in 2001 – but with the win coming up in the 19th over, this win was their second-biggest overall and biggest in World Cups.