India 131-3 (Kohli 36no, Raina 35no) beat
Pakistan 130-8 (Umar Akmal 33) by 7 wickets
ICC World Twenty20 2014 Group 2, Mirpur
India started their ICC World Twenty20 2014 campaign on a great note, cruising to a seven-wicket win over Pakistan in their Group Two encounter in Mirpur.
Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina put up 66 runs for the fourth wicket as they chased down the paltry target of 131 runs with nine balls to spare.
Pakistan had earlier struggled to find much fluency with the bat in posting 130 for eight.
The Indians got off to a cautious start with just seven runs coming off the first three overs. They did not want to make any mistakes at the top of the order, like their arch-rivals did. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan did just that, before the former cut loose in the fourth over with a six and a four.
In all they put on 54 runs for the first wicket, before Dhawan was out in the eighth over. He scored a quickfire 30 runs off 28 balls, inclusive of five fours.
Ten runs later, Sharma played a delivery onto his stumps off Saeed Ajmal (1-18) and threw away his great start. He scored 24 runs off 21 balls, with one four and two sixes. Yuvraj Singh (1) came to the crease and was bowled by next-change Bilawal Bhatti (1-17), giving Pakistan a flicker of hope.
But Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina were unruffled by all the commotion as they calmly chased down the runs.
Kohli was unbeaten 36 off 32 balls, with four fours and one six, while Raina made 35 runs off only 28 balls. He hit four fours and one six, clubbing the Pakistan bowling attack, especially off short balls.
Umar Gul (1-35) was the other wicket-taker and his last over, 19th off the innings, was when the winning runs were scored.
Earlier, India won the toss and elected to field first. Pakistan got off to a horrid start as Kamran Akmal (8) was run out by Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-21) in the second over of the innings.
There were a couple of confused shouts between Ajmal Shehzad and Mohammad Hafeez as well, but they somehow managed to calm their nerves down. They added 35 runs for the second wicket, but the runs were coming slowly as the India’s opening bowlers did a very fine job.
Then the spinners came on and Pakistan batsmen found themselves in a need to hurry up the scoring rate, which proved to be their downfall. Hafeez was the first to go in the eighth over, caught off Ravindra Jadeja (1-18), after scoring 15 runs.
Then Amit Mishra (2-22) got into the act, having Shehzad stumped in the next over. He made 22 runs off 17 balls, with two sixes.
Pakistan were struggling at 47 for three in the ninth over, when a 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket between Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik. The two took their time settling down, slowing the run-rate even further but their stand was vital for the score to cross the 100-run mark, which they nearly did together.
India took a wicket after seven overs as Malik pulled the trigger, but couldn’t do the damage. He was out for 18 runs off 20 balls, with one four and one six. Six runs later, the big wicket came, that of the younger Akmal as he was caught brilliantly by Raina off Mohammad Shami (1-31).
Their hopes now rested on Shahid Afridi’s shoulders but he couldn’t do much at the end of the innings and was caught out for eight runs. And it was Soahaib Maqsood’s 21 off 11 balls, with 15 runs coming off the last over that took Pakistan to a respectable score. He hit two fours and one six.
Pakistan take on Australia next on Sunday (23rd March), while India will play West Indies in the evening game that day.
© Cricket World 2014