Pakistan News

India shrug off Sami scare to beat Pakistan

India shrug off Sami scare to beat Pakistan

KOLKATA: Cool-headed Virat Kohli scored an unbeaten half century as India cruised to a comfortable six-wicket victory over arch rivals Pakistan at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens in the World Twenty20 on Saturday.

Pre-tournament favourites India put their campaign back on track after suffering a shock loss against New Zealand in the tournament opener, extending their unbeaten run in major tournaments against Pakistan.

Chasing 119 on a track that seemed dual-paced, India lost their top three batsmen early only to see Kohli and Yuvraj Singh put together a 61-run, fourth-wicket partnership to help the hosts canter home in 15.5 overs in a game reduced to 18 overs a side because of rain.

Kohli (55 not out) and Yuvraj combined caution and aggression to blunt the Pakistan bowling attack, which seemed to miss left-arm spinner Imad Wasim, who made way for Mohammad Sami.

Kohli and Yuvraj paired up after a couple of early boundaries from Rohit Sharma (10) were followed by two quick wickets for pace bowler Mohammad Sami, who justified his inclusion at the cost of spinner Imad Wasim on a pitch helping slow bowling.

Sami jolted the Indian batting after Sharma skied a catch off Mohammad Amir. Sami bowled left-handers Shikhar Dhawan (6) and Suresh Raina (0) off successive deliveries as both played on, reducing India to 23-3 in the fifth over. That left Kohli to play one of his trademark innings in a successful run chase.

Yuvraj (24) fell to Wahab Riaz, but Kohli, who was joined by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the final overs, was in cruise control as his 37-ball knock was laced by seven boundaries and a six.

Dhoni (13 not out) swiftly joined the party as he hit a six to level the scores and then hit the winning runs in front of a vociferous crowd.

Earlier, Ahmed Shehzad and Shoaib Malik played useful cameos to guide Pakistan to 118 for five, a score which looked competitive on a tricky surface.

Put in to bat on a moisture-laden pitch that saw heavy rains through the day, Pakistan openers Sharjeel Khan (17) and Shehzad (25) played cautiously at first but then lost their wickets as they tried to accelerate.

Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Suresh Raina looked dangerous in their opening spells on a track that provided turn and bounce, but the Pakistan batsmen did well to show patience.

Fresh from his match-winning exploits against Bangladesh, skipper Shahid Afridi (8) promoted himself to number three but the boom was missing from his shots this time around.

The hard-hitting batsman could only find a single boundary in his scratchy 14-ball stay as he walked back amid loud cheers from the capacity crowd.

Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik then stitched together a crucial 41-run stand that helped Pakistan put up what seemed a respectable score.

Akmal (22), whose 16-ball knock was studded with a boundary and a six, was caught behind off Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm spin.

Top-scorer Malik (26), who hit three boundaries and a six in his innings, soon joined Akmal in the dug-out after trying to force quick runs off Ashish Nehra.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez finished off the innings as Pakistan got seven off the last over.

But Pakistan’s efforts were negated by Kohli who deservedly got the man of the match award.

India next play Bangladesh in Bangalore on Wednesday, while Pakistan head to Mohali to meet New Zealand on Tuesday.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2016

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