The stage was set perfectly, the setting even better as thousands of India and Pakistani fans thronged to Manchester to paint Old Trafford with blue, saffron and green. And, why shouldn’t they?
After all, it was the battle of the arch-rivals on the grandest stage of them. Such was the anticipation and excitement around the Indo-Pak encounter (when is there not?), that even the rain gods, who had been earlier expected to make their presence felt, decided to stay away and enjoy what would be an eventual masterclass by an artist masquerading as a batsman Rohit Sharma [140 off 113 balls] that paved way for India’s 7th straight-win over Pakistan in World Cup cricket, on this day in 2019.
India vs Pakistan. Old Trafford, Manchester. World Cup 2019. Hitman runs riot
It was a murky day in Manchester and so Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed thought of putting early pressure on the famed Indian top-3 courtesy Mohammad Amir and co.
Sarfaraz would have expected a 2017 Champions Trophy final encore from Mohammad Amir, who ripped apart India’s top-order back then, to help Pakistan seal the title.
But this was no 2017. Rohit had worked on his glaring weakness against left-arm bowling and had come into this game on the back of a hundred and a half-century in the first two games.
Sarfaraz would rue that decision for the next 8 hours as Sharma went on to paint the entire Old Trafford with his sumptuous strokes. Pull? Check. Cover-drive? Check. Backfoot punch? Check. Straight lofted six? Check. Slog sweep? Check. Tendulkar-esque upper-cut? Check. Check. Check.
Rohit and KL Rahul went on to amass a 136-run stand for the opening stand. Rahul played the anchor role beautifully and strokes a brilliant half-century while Rohit just teed into the Pakistani bowling attack, especially Hassan Ali, to stroke the 2nd of his eventual five hundred in the World Cup.
Virat Kohli consolidates as Sarfaraz Ahmed yawns
Rohit, who stroked 14 fours and three monstrous sixes, then went on to add another 98 runs for the second wicket with Virat Kohli and just as he was looking prime for another double-hundred, he holed out to Hassan Ali at short fine-leg.
But the damage had already been done. And, it showed on Sarfaraz’s face or rather his yawning face, something that just about summed up the day for Pakistan.
Virat Kohli stroked another half-century, ensuring India post 5-336 after 50 overs.
Pakistan needed a brisk start from their opening pair and their hopes would have risen when star Indian seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar hobbled off the ground in the 5th over due to injury.
But, little did they or anyone knew, calamity was about to strike the very next ball, as replacement bowler Vijay Shankar struck gold on his very first ball, taking out Imam Ul Haq leg-before-wicket.
Kuldeep Yadav bamboozles Babar Azam’s defence
Babar Azam  and FakharZaman  then proceeded to take centerstage, stroking some sumptuous strokes during their 104-run second-wicket partnership.
Then came the ball of the tournament from Kuldeep Yadav, which not only saw the back of Babar Azam but also signaled the beginning of the end for Pakistan. It was a dream delivery from Kuldeep, one that drifted away gently before spinning sharply back into Babar to dislodge his defense.
2-117 soon became 3-126, 4-129, 5-129, and 6-165 as Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez , Shoaib Malik  and skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed  followed suit.
Rain eventually halted the proceedings and when it did subside, Pakistan was left with an impossible target of 136 runs off the last 30 balls. Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan flexed their muscles in the end but all it did was reduce the margin of defeat.
Pakistan eventually finished at 6-212 in 40 overs, handing India their 7th straight win in World Cup cricket against the arch-rivals in what possibly turned out to be one of the most one-sided games in Indo-Pak history.