India today virtually assured themselves of a quarterfinal berth in the cricket World Cup after spanking minnows UAE by nine wickets, recording their third successive win with yet another flawless display, here today.
After the bowlers led by off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (4/25) bundled out UAE for a paltry 102 in only 31.3 overs, the batsmen made short work of the target knocking off the required runs in only 18.5 overs in a completely lop-sided Pool B contest.
India thus maintained their grip on the top spot in the league table with three wins from as many matches which took their points tally to six. With three matches against West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland left, Dhoni and his boys, are well on course of topping the group.
Shikhar Dhawan (14) started off well with three sweetly-timed boundaries before Rohan Mustafa at gully pulled off a one-handed stunner to send him back. The pacer was Mohammed Naveed.
Rohit Sharma hit a fluent unbeaten 57 off 55 deliveries with the help of 10 fours and a six to notch up a significant score before the West Indies game.
While runs against UAE may not be the best indicator of anyone’s current form, but some of Rohit’s silken strokes would certainly keep the Caribbean bowlers worried before the duel on March 6.
Two strokes that stand out were cover drives off rival captain Mohammed Tauqir’s off-spin. The first was hit through extra cover and the long-off fielder failed to stop it. The second off the very next delivery was hit finer and the result was same. Even when Rohit played the pull shot, it seemed as if he was indulging in touchplay rather use sheer muscle.
Virat Kohli (33 not out) had a calm day in office. Despite that he added 75 runs for the unbroken second wicket with Rohit in 12.2 overs.
The winning boundary was hit by Rohit and the celebrations were predictably muted as the win against UAE was taken for granted.