India stay alive with 6-wkt win

India stay alive with 6-wkt win

Cool Kohli steers hosts past Pakistan after early setbacks in crucial Group 2 encounter

India stay alive with 6-wkt win

 Mohammad Sami’s double strike in as many balls and India’s cautious approach had kept Pakistan in the game. The 11th and 12th overs changed the complexion of the contest in telling fashion.

At 60 for three after 10 overs, India, who were chasing Pakistan’s tricky 118 for five in 18 overs, hadn’t reached safe shores. They needed a further 59 off 48 balls, a nothing equation in a T20 game but made a lot harder here due to a combination of reasons. In the 11th over, Virat Kohli swept Shoaib Malik over backward square-leg for six and followed it up with a pulled four to mid-wicket fence. In the next over, Yuvraj Singh pulled Wahab Riaz with disdain over cow corner for a six that crushed the spirit of Pakistan in their World T20 Super 10 tie here on Saturday.

And though Yuvraj perished while attempting a similar shot off Riaz after raising a crucial 61-run stand (44 balls) for the fourth wicket, the game had been sealed in India’s favour for practical purposes. India eventually reached the required target (119) in 15.5 overs losing four wickets, with skipper MS Dhoni finishing it off with a six and a single off Mohammad Irfan.

India’s six-wicket win, fashioned by Kohli’s wonderfully paced unbeaten 55 (37b, 7x4, 1x6), not only kept their hopes alive in the World T20 but also enabled them to keep their all-win record in World Cups intact. There was also a small matter of India breaking Pakistan’s unbeaten record at the Eden in limited-overs matches.

Earlier, the hosts’ chase appeared to be heading the Nagpur way. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina fell in the space of nine runs and at 23 for three they were in real spot of bother. Kohli and Yuvraj, however, settled India’s nerves with a calculated approach. Kohli once again proved he is a big-match player and especially if that contest involves Pakistan.

Heavy rains in the evening (around 5.00 pm) that lasted more than 30 minutes had put a question mark over the match. After all, not too long ago, the T20I match between India and South Africa had been called off without a ball being bowled following a 30-minute rain.

Following excellent work by the ground staff, an 18-over-a-side affair was salvaged with start delayed by an hour. Dhoni won the toss, and not surprisingly, decided to bowl first given the possibility of rain. But just an over from R Ashwin (second of the innings) it was clear that there was little difference between the pitch in Nagpur, where India folded up for 79, and the one here.

The Pakistani batsmen, however, were hardly able to read the Indian spinners – Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina – as the ball turned square right from the start. All the three spinners relished the spin and bite in the pitch where stroke-making was fraught with danger.

Pakistan openers Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad appeared to have sized up the situation well and didn’t try anything fancy; the pair added 38 runs in 7.3 overs, a healthy start given the conditions.

A series of ill-conceived strokes after that, however, put Pakistan in a spot of bother. Sharjeel’s mis-timed pull off Raina was pouched by Hardik Pandya at short long-on; the fielder almost hurting himself in the process after banging his face to the turf. Shehzad departed soon to another avoidable shot which attracted even the admonition of Afridi. But the skipper himself was guilty of throwing his wicket away; his miscued pull off Pandya finding the safe hands of Virat Kohli at short long-on.

After a sedate start and a mini collapse, Pakistan found their breath back through a 41-run stand for the fourth wicket between Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal but their departures in quick succession sucked the momentum out of the innings, leaving India with a moderate total to chase.

score board

PAKISTAN
Sharjeel c Pandya b Raina    17
(24b, 2x4)
Shehzad c Jadeja b Bumrah    25
(28b, 3x4)
Afridi c Kohli b Pandya    8
(14b, 1x4)
Akmal c Dhoni b Jadeja    22
(16b, 1x4, 1x6)
Malik c Ashwin b Nehra    26
(16b, 3x4, 1x6)
Sarfraz (not out)    8
(6b, 1x4)
Hafeez (not out)    5
(5b)
Extras (B-2, LB-3, W-1, NB-1)    7
Total (for 5 wkts, 18 overs)    118
Fall of wickets: 1-38 (Sharjeel), 2-46 (Shehzad), 3-60 (Afridi), 4-101 (Umar), 5-105 (Malik). 
Bowling: Nehra 4-0-20-1, Ashwin 3-0-12-0, Bumrah 4-0-32-1, Jadeja 4-0-20-1 (w-1), Raina 1-0-4-1, Pandya 2-0-25-1.
INDIA
Rohit c Malik b Amir    10
(11b, 2x4)
Dhawan b Sami    6
(15b, 1x4)
Kohli (not out)    55
(37b, 7x4, 1x6)
Raina b Sami    0
(1b)
Yuvraj c Sami b Riaz    24
(23b, 4, 1x6)
Dhoni (not out)    13
(9b, 1x6)
Extras (LB-3, W-7, NB-1)    11
Total (for 4 wkts, 15.5 overs)    119
Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Rohit), 2-23 (Dhawan), 3-23 (Raina), 4-84 (Yuvraj Singh).
Bowling: Amir 3-1-11-1 (w-1), Irfan 2.5-0-25-0 (w-1), Sami 2-0-17-2 (nb-1), Afridi 4-0-25-0 (w-2), Malik 2-0-22-2 (w-2), Riaz 2-0-16-1.

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