Nobody suffered more than the groundsmen at Edgbaston on Saturday. The weather did innumerably frustrating flip-flops and each time they rushed out, working the Super Sopper, draining water off the surface, and dragging the covers in and out of place.
Four times the rain disrupted play, and over four hours the game was delayed, before the gods finally took mercy.
In the end, India secured an untroubled eight-wicket victory over Pakistan, marching into the last four undefeated and condemning the opponent to a hopelessly barren campaign in the Champions Trophy.
Chasing a thrice-revised target of 102 in 22 overs (D/L method), India won with 17 balls to spare, Shikhar Dhawan making a hasty 48.
A place in the semifinals and top spot in Group B had been assured even before the contest had begun, but this was yet another assertion of authority from M.S. Dhoni’s men.
In an air of electric anticipation and amidst a capacity crowd (for the most part), a tottering Pakistan was skittled out for 165, India bowling and fielding with rigid control.
After two rain interruptions had disturbed the first innings, playing conditions were revised, and the match shortened to 40 overs each side. India’s target was first recalibrated to 168, and then 157 after another shower.
At the fourth stoppage, most in the crowd had lost hope of a restart. There was time to squeeze a result in, though, and with India needing 39 from 10 overs or so, there was little doubt over how it was going to end.
Edgbaston was chock-full for the occasion, Indian flags outnumbering the green and white of Pakistan but not by very much. Clashing choruses of cheers and boos followed the announcement of each name on the tannoy, one zindabad drowned out by a retaliatory murdabad.
For the second game running, M.S. Dhoni won the toss and elected to chase. Pakistan batted with an early torpor under the sun as India’s new-ball bowlers kept a lid on things.
A review spared Nasir Jamshed a leg-before dismissal on Umesh Yadav’s first ball but it didn’t come to matter for man-of-the-match Bhuvneshwar Kumar soon got him at the other end, edging to Suresh Raina at second slip.
That over was one of two maidens Bhuvneshwar bowled on the trot, the Pakistan innings stalling at seven for one after five overs.
Mohammed Hafeez and Kamran Akmal forced a release from this chokehold, scoring a flurry of boundaries thereafter. But into this little half-hour of Pakistani momentum the rain intruded, sending the players inside after the 12th over.
They re-emerged 15 minutes later. And Hafeez went first ball for 27, trying to guide Bhuvneshwar down to third man but only finding Dhoni.
Kamran Akmal lasted three overs longer before Ashwin had him caught at leg-slip, the ball ricocheting off Dhoni’s thigh. Dark clouds had been steadily rolling in from the north by this stage, and 19 overs in, it poured again, this time the players not reappearing for another two-and-a-half hours.
On resumption, Jadeja showed he was still in the habit of landing blows when it matters the most. Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s best batsman here beyond question, thoroughly missed a delivery that went straight with the arm and was bowled for 22.
From here, Pakistan crumbled pitifully, losing the last six wickets for 34 runs in under nine overs.
The DRS, which came to India’s aid twice in the previous game, was of assistance again as Asad Shafiq fell for 41 after an excellently considered review. Pakistan eventually folded up for 165. It had been stop-start business right through but in India’s streak of success, there was to be no break.