India stay alive with big win

Kohli, Yuvraj, Balaji star as Dhonis men outclass arch-rivals Pakistan by eight wickets

India stay alive with big win

Pushed to the wall, India brought their A game to the fore to put it across Pakistan in an emphatic manner here on Sunday.

Having suffered an ignominious defeat against Australia on Friday, India needed to wipe their slate clean to stay in contention for a slot in the semifinals and they did so with some degree of comfort in a high-voltage contest. After a rejigged bowling attack got its job done – dismissing Pakistan for a modest 128 in 19.4 overs – Indian batsmen got the required runs in 17 overs in a Group 2 match of the World T20 at the R Premadasa Stadium.

Notwithstanding the margin of victory, eight-wicket win and no less, India’s chase wasn’t without its share of tension. Gambhir fell to a second-ball blob while there was a customary hit and miss play by the returning Virender Sehwag (29, 24b, 4x4) who, it must be said, did his bit in a high-pressure game. Virat Kohli, man of the match for his unbeaten 78 (61b, 8x4, 2x6), was reprieved twice – on 42 and 64 – but at the end of the day it was a well-deserved win, their first in eight Super Eight matches spread over three events.

Kohli once again underscored his status as India’s best batsman at the moment with an innings filled with high-quality strokes that took the sting out of Pakistani attack. Having survived some edgy moments early in his innings, the 23-year-old grew in confidence as he cut, drove and danced down the wicket as Pakistan’s outcricket went to pieces. Yuvraj Singh, after a satisfying day on the field with the ball, chipped in with an unbeaten 19 (16b, 2x4) as India maintained their all-win record over arch-rivals in World Cups.

Shaky start

After effecting the required reinforcements to their bowling group, India put behind their disappointing show against Australia to pack off Pakistan inside of 20 overs. The first over by Zaheer Khan, however, hardly gave  away any signs of things to follow. The left-arm seamer struggled to get his line right, sent down three wides including a four and when he finally got one right, Sehwag floored a Mohammad Hafeez nick at the lone slip. The second over by Irfan Pathan began with a four.

But the left-arm seamer hit back in style, trapping Imran Nazir in front with the very next ball to set the ball rolling. The ploy to send Shahid Afridi at three fell miserably on its face as the all-rounder lasted just 12 balls. Yuvraj had been at the receiving end of the ire of a couple of former cricketers who had questioned his fitness and the southpaw might have done just enough to silence those voices.

Impressive effort

The left-arm spinner accounted for Nasir Jamshed and the dangerous Kamran Akmal in successive overs and when Virat Kohli cleaned up skipper Hafeez with a ball that went off his bat, the strong contingent of Pakistani supporters at the stadium, fell into stunned silence. In fact, the crowd had ruffled Suresh Raina so much that when he grabbed Umar Akmal’s pull at deep mid-wicket, he cupped his ear to suggest that he couldn’t hear them.

Umar and Shoiab Malik carried out the recovery job admirably well sharing 47 runs for the sixth wicket, but fell in quick succession to peg the innings back. R Ashwin (16/2) was brilliant in the middle overs, giving little away and scalping both the set batsmen in stingy four overs. Lakshmipathi Balaji then wiped off the tail in the final over with wickets off successive balls to provide India the best chance to win.

Score board

PAKISTAN

Hafeez b Kohli    15
(28b, 1x4)
Nazir lbw Irfan    8
(5b, 2x4)
Afridi c Raina b Balaji    14
(12b, 2x4)
Jamshed c Dhoni b Yuvraj    4
(5b)
K Akmal c Dhoni b Yuvraj    5
(6b)
Malik c Rohit b Ashwin    28
(22b, 3x4)
U Akmal c Raina b Ashwin    21
(18b, 1x6)
Arafat (run out)    8
(11b, 1x4)
Gul  c Dhoni b Balaji    12
(10b, 1x6)
Ajmal c Dhoni b Balaji    1
(2b)
Hasan (not out)    0
(0b)
Extras (LB-1, W-10, NB-1)    12
Total (all out, 19.4 overs)     128
Fall of wickets: 1-17 (Nazir), 2-35 (Afridi), 3-43 (Jamshed), 4-49 (K Akmal), 5-59 (Hafeez), 6-106 (Malik), 7-115 (U Akmal), 8-115 (Arafat), 9-128 (Gul).
Bowling: Zaheer 3-0-22-0 (w-8), Irfan 3-0-30-1 (w-1), Balaji 3.4-0-22-3, Ashwin 4-0-16-2 (w-1), Yuvraj 3-0-16-2, Kohli 3-0-21-1 (nb-1).
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 42/2.

INDIA

Gambhir c & b Hasan    0
(2b)
Sehwag c Gul b Afridi    29
(24b, 4x4)
Kohli (not out)    78
(61b, 8x4, 2x6)
Yuvraj (not out)    19
(16b, 2x4)
Extras (W-2, NB-1)    3
Total (for 2 wkts, 17 overs)129
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Gambhir), 2-75 (Sehwag).
Bowling: Hasan 4-0-22-1 (w-1), Gul 3-0-30-0 (nb-1, w-1), Ajmal 4-0-25-0, Afridi 4-0-34-1, Arafat 1-0-11-0, Hafeez 1-0-7-0.
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 36/1.

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