Kohli leads India to easy win over Pakistan
COLOMBO: There’s something about playing Pakistan in a World Cup match that lifts the Men in Blue to another level. Form, pitch, conditions – all become irrelevant.
Facing a do-or-die battle, Dhoni’s boys held their nerve and crushed their archrivals by 8 wickets, with 18 balls to spare. They also preserved India’s proud record of never losing a World Cup match – ODI or T20 – to Pakistan.
There were many heroes for India. Virat Kohli continued his dream run, scoring an unbeaten 78 off 61 balls. L Balaji took 3/22, R Ashwin 2/16. Yuvraj Singh, facing questions over his fitness, took 2/16 from 3 overs, ran out Yasir Arafat and finished the job with the bat as India won their first Super 8 match since 2007.
With the ‘Chak de India’ number playing out, the Premadasa stadium erupted as soon asYuvraj Singh hit the winning runs off Saeed Ajmal to ensure an eight-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday night. A win over Pakistan always matters, but this one was even more special since it kept India alive in the World T20.
In a do-or-die Super Eights game for them, the Men In Blue delivered a telling performance. First, it was the much-maligned bowlers, who put behind a forgettable battering at the hands of Shane Watson and David Warner behind by scuttling out Pakistan for merely 128. Then, Virat Kohli showed yet again why he is rated as the best young batsman in world cricket as he slammed an undefeated 78 (61b, 8×4, 2×6) to steer an easy chase with three overs to spare.
India recalled Virender Sehwag for the crunch game, and the star bat didn’t disappoint, hitting four fours in a 29-run knock off 24 balls to show what the team misses when he isn’t there. Sehwag and Kohli added 74 in 61 balls for the second wicket to calm the nerves in the dressing room after Gautam Gambhir was dismissed caught and bowled off left-arm spinnerHasan Raza.
Sehwag perished trying to hit Shahid Afridi for a six, but Yuvraj, who had earlier taken two crucial wickets, besides affecting a run out with a direct hit, underlined his utility to the team by chipping in with an unbeaten 19. Yuvraj shared a 54-run stand (that came in 39 balls) for the third wicket with Kohli that took India home.
Kohli was dropped by twice, once by Umar Akmal at backward point, who spilled a difficult chance off Yasir Arafat when the batsman was on 42, and later by Imran Nazir off Umar Gul in the deep. In between were some gorgeous drives through the covers and some exquisite footwork against the spinners. The rest of the world may fear Saeed Ajmal, but for Kohli, he is easy meat! Pakistan played four tweakers again, but to no avail.
Earlier, one moment aptly summed up Pakistan’s woeful effort with the bat. Umar Akmal, the last specialist left, deposited an R Ashwin long hop down the throat of Suresh Raina at deep mid-wicket. India had left out spinners Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla and brought in L Balaji to strengthen the seam attack. The move paid off as Balaji picked up three for 22, including the scalp of Shahid Afridi, who was going ‘boom boom’ before perishing for 14.
It was the spinners, though, who did the real star turn for India, again. Ashwin gave away merely 16 runs in his four overs, while picking up Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal. Yuvraj Singh took care of Nasir Jamshed and Kamran Akmal with his ‘pie chuckers.’
Skipper Mohammad Hafeez took 28 balls to make 15, before chopping a Virat Kohli delivery onto his stumps. The only time Pakistan looked to have rattled India a bit was during a 47-run stand between Akmal and Malik that came in 34 balls. The duo had joined hands with Pakistan in a mess at 59 for five, but the moment they were separated, there was complete mayhem. The next five wickets went for 22 runs.
After five years, India have finally won a Super Eight game at the World T20. They are yet to lose to Pakistan in a T20I, or a World Cup game.