Kohli, Yuvraj fire India to 319/3 in rain-hit tie

Kohli, Yuvraj fire India to 319/3 in rain-hit tie
Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh stood out in an all-round batting effort, propelling India to 319 for three against Pakistan after rain halted proceedings twice in the marquee clash of the Champions Trophy here today.

Indian batsmen remained focussed despite the rain breaks with Rohit Sharma (91 off 119), Shikhar Dhawan (68 off 65), Virat Kohli (81 not out off 68) and Yuvraj (53 off 32) rising to the occasion in a game reduced to 48 overs a side.

Thanks to the big hitting by Yuvraj, Kohli and Hardik Pandya, India amassed 72 runs in the last four overs with the 46th and 48th going for 21 and 23 runs.

Pakistan's target, though, is 324 in 48 overs. While Kohli punished pacer Wahab Riaz, Pandya smashed three consecutive sixes off left-arm spinner Imad Wasim in the final over.

In a match watched by Sachin Tendulkar from the stands, Indian batsmen went on the rampage in the death overs after patiently seeing off two rain breaks.

Play was stopped first when India were 46 for no loss in the 10th over and rain played spoilsport again when they were 173 for one in the 34th over with Rohit and Kohli holding fort.

It was not surprising that Sarfraz Ahmed sent India in to bat after winning the toss under overcast conditions. The atmosphere around the ground was electric though the day began on a sombre note with players of both teams observing a minute's silence for the people killed in the London Bridge terrorist attack.

The start of the Indian innings increased the excitement levels by a few notches with a charged-up Mohammad Amir beating Rohit's bat three times in what turned out to be a maiden over. It was a cautious start by both the openers with just 15 coming in five overs. Amir's first spell of four overs was exceptional as he gave away 14 runs and was a tad unlucky to not get a wicket.

Skipper Ahmed started with the pace of Amir and left-arm spin of Wasim. Though Wasim was economical, facing a spinner early on released the pressure on Rohit and Dhawan with Amir cranking up good pace at the other end.

The experienced duo then played their strokes, especially Rohit, who exquisitely punched through the off-side. He brought his fifty by depositing spinner Shadab Khan over deep mid-wicket for a six. The stylish batsman was playing in his first international game since October last year, having undergone a thigh surgery in November.

After Rohit reached his half century, Dhawan too changed gears as he smashed pacer Wahab Riaz for three successive fours before completing his half century.

After the fall of openers, Kohli and Yuvraj took the innings forward. While Kohli was scratchy for a major part of his innings, Yuvraj was in full flow from the word go, hitting the Pakistani bowlers to all parts of the ground.

The stylish southpaw hit eight crisp boundaries and a six in his entertaining knock, while Kohli made up for a sluggish start with a late flourish, ending with six fours and three sixes.

Pakistan were ordinary on the field with Hasan Ali guilty of dropping Yuvraj when he was on 9. A little later, Fakhar Zaman dropped Kohli on 43, eventually hurting Pakistan badly.

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