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India 11-0 Pakistan - World Cup dominance extended

Kolkata played host to India's 11th win in a World Cup or World T20 match against Pakistan
Kolkata played host to India's 11th win in a World Cup or World T20 match against Pakistan
©Chetan Narula / Cricket World

India roared back into contention for  the ICC World T20 semi-finals with a calm six-wicket win over arch rivals Pakistan in Kolkata.

Rain Forces Pakistan Selection

It was a nervous day for everyone involved with the game, be it the two teams, the people of Kolkata, the fans flying in ahead of the game or the millions waiting to watch it on television. It started raining in the morning and it ended just about when this correspondent reached the venue. The stoppage allowed an 18-over game, and anything less would have been unworthy of the hype surrounding an India-Pakistan game.

The thing about rain or such weather conditions is that it impacts the game, or sometimes the way you approach it. And that’s why Pakistan opted to go with four seamers on a track that spun like a top. It was also the reason why India chose to field first after winning the toss, keeping in mind further rain delays or D/L interventions. That perhaps set the tone for how the game panned out.

Slow Pakistan Innings

While Ashish Nehra (1-20) gave India a miserly start, the reality of how the pitch would behave shone through when Ravichandran Ashwin (0-12) bowled three overs in succession. He was nearly unplayable in those overs as Pakistan crawled to 28 without loss at the end of the powerplay overs. With the ball turning an arm’s length, and stopping on the batsmen, Sharjeel Khan (17) holed out in the deep.

Shahid Afridi (8) came out to bat at number three, much to everyone’s surprise, and it could have only ended in one of two possibilities. Sadly enough, he couldn’t repeat his knock from the Bangladesh game, though he did manage to provide some impetus to the Pakistan innings, at least in the form of morale.

Ahmed Shehzad (25) had started hitting out, but Ravindra Jadeja (1-20) had been deployed immediately after the powerplay overs. He proved to be even more dangerous on the raging turning track, as his ability to deliver the straight balls would have surprised the batsmen at any moment.

The two prime spinners bowled seven overs between them, giving away only 32 runs, while Jadeja scalped the wicket of Umar Akmal (22) later in the death overs.

Pakistan left it a bit late to get things going as they only managed to cross the 100-mark in the 16th over. It was down to some lusty hits from Shoaib Malik (26) and Akmal. They would have taken 118 for five in their 18 allotted overs, considering their slow start, but their wrong team selection made sure it wasn’t going to be enough.

India Ease To Win

The Men in Blue didn’t have the best of starts to the game, as they were struggling at 23 for three at one stage. Mohammad Amir (1-11) had accounted for Rohit Sharma (10). Meanwhile Mohammad Sami (2-17) sent back Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina (0) in identical fashion, both batsmen playing on owing to extra bounce.

The Pakistan pacers had done the trick with the new ball. However, this is where their attack ran out of sizzle, because thereafter, proper spinners were needed to exploit the conditions and stop the Indian run scoring. In particular, Kohli, who continued to his sublime run of form and appeared as if he was batting on a track tailored differently for him.

That was the key difference between the two sides, and indeed from India’s shocking loss against New Zealand in Nagpur. At one end, they had Kohli who was playing spin commendably, while Yuvraj Singh (24) was just intent on staying at the wicket.

When the spin options dried up, Pakistan had to go back to its pacers and the two were even more comfortable countering them on a slow track.

They eased off the pressure with a 61-run partnership, and although Yuvraj couldn’t make it until the end, the asking rate had come down to less than a run per ball. MS Dhoni (13 not out) then just finished it off, as his is wont, with Kohli scaling yet another well deserved half-century.

What This Means

India have managed to scale back the damage suffered in the first match against New Zealand. They now have their first points on board, and have also improved their net run-rate to -0.895. However they are still placed third in the group, albeit on NRR, but more importantly they play their third and fourth games in this stage after Pakistan. As seen from this evening, India are pretty good at chasing when they know what is at stake.

Pakistan play New Zealand next and will also take on Australia in a span of four days over the next week, and by that time India will have only played Bangladesh. They might drop the ball if they aren’t able to rise to the challenge of playing the two Tasman teams, and continue reading the conditions wrong. Playing without a proper spin attack in Kolkata, irrespective of conditions, was near suicidal and they paid for it tonight and might as well do in the long run as well.

© Cricket World 2016