India maintained their immaculate World Cup record against Pakistan after Virat Kohli’s confident 36 not out powered them to a seven-wicket victory against the arch-rivals in a group two super 10 stage match of the World Twenty20 on Friday.
On a wicket that had enough for the spinners, India were pleased for playing three tweakers. Amit Mishra led India’s bowling as they limited Pakistan to 130 for seven and then the batsmen ensured that they sailed home to a seven-wicket triumph. Thus, India were triumphant in maintaining their clean line up over Pakistan in World Cups and they didn’t let the Shahid Afridi-heroics of the Asia Cup frighten them ahead of this ICC World T20 2014 contest.
Pakistan’s innings stuttered. It was only Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal’s partnership that looked guaranteed as they put up 50 in the center overs. Take that aside and there were a few deprived shots, some shambolic running. Kamran Akmal had started very well, but then Ahmed Shehzad sent him reverse when he called for a tense run in the second over. That began the fall. Mohammad Hafeez also didn’t get going. Malik and Akmal did look in better touch, but Mishra fixed them down with some incredible bowling. Not to forget Ravindra Jadeja who also contributed with one for 18. A score of 131 was modest at best and Pakistan needed a brave effort to hit back.
India started off their run-chase in cautious fashion. Shikhar Dhawan was tight with the off-spinners coming early on. In three overs, they could only score seven runs. That is when Rohit Sharma changed things. He moved across the stumps scooped Junaid Khan over fine-leg and then thrilling to him and hit one over point for six.
Saeed Ajmal was brought on with the surface aiding spin and Dhawan under pressure. And, he did miss the first two deliveries, but then cracked three boundaries to get back into tempo. While he sustained to fight, India moved along smoothly and past 50. With the score on 54, Dhawan eventually fell with a short ball forcing him to sky one to fine-leg. India then unexpectedly lost wickets. Rohit chopped one onto his stumps and then Yuvraj was bowled by Bilawal Bhatti for a lonely run. At 65 for three in 10.1 overs, Pakistan just sniffed a comeback.
But then, Suresh Raina attacked from the beginning and although they tried to bowl short, he fought fire with fire. Virat Kohli was as guaranteed as ever as India finished the run-chase with nine balls to spare. They rotated strike and kept attacking the bowlers, not allowing them to resolve in. The partnership of 66 off 50 deliveries was just too good for Pakistan.
This win comes as a huge advance for India as they begin their battle with a victory over the arch-rivals. But, the match did not live up to its billing one would say!
Pakistan 130 for 7 in 20 overs (Umar Akmal 33; Mohammed Shami 1 for 31, Amit Mishra 2 for 22, Ravindra Jadeja 1 for 18) lost to India 131 for 3 (Shikhar Dhawan 30, Virat Kohli 36*, Suresh Raina 35*) by 7 wickets.
Man of the Match: Amit Mishra.