India Stay Alive By Beating Rivals Pakistan

India Stay Alive By Beating Rivals Pakistan
India Stay Alive By Beating Rivals Pakistan
©REUTERS / Action Images

India 129-2 (Kohli 78no) beat
Pakistan 128 (Balaji 3-22) by 8 wickets
ICC World T20 2012, Super Eight Group 2, Colombo
Report by Chetan Narula in Colombo

India kept their semi-final hopes alive on Sunday evening in Colombo, beating Pakistan by eight wickets, a result which means that the last Super Eights matchday at R. Premadasa Stadium will decide who the second semi-finalist from this group is.

This after Australia beat South Africa earlier in the day, by the same margin, and pretty much sealed their spot in the last four.

Pakistan went into the match full of confidence while India were just feeling the opposite. So much so, that they brought back Virender Sehwag into the playing 11, after the debacle against Australia. Even as Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first, it became apparent that Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla didn’t play this vital match for India knew full well of their opposition's ability against spin.

This time Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not experiment with the new ball and handed it to Zaheer Khan, who bowled an expensive over first up but Irfan Pathan, also given the new ball, trapped Imran Nazir (8) LBW.

Pakistan threw a surprise in the mix sending Shahid Afridi up the order and he did not get out on the first ball he faced. He stayed put for 12 deliveries, scoring 14 runs and then falling to Lakshmipathy Balaji.

Yuvraj Singh then came into the attack and found some help, getting rid of Nasir Jamshed (4) and Kamran Akmal (5), both getting in the same manner, trying to cut him and edging behind to the keeper. When India’s other part-time bowler on the night, Virat Kohli, also took a wicket, bowling skipper Mohammad Hafeez for just 18 runs, Pakistan had been reduced to 59/5 in the 10th over.

Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal then came together, putting together 47 runs for the sixth wicket. They were just about looking dangerous, trying to up the ante, when Ravichandran Ashwin had them both caught in successive overs ending Pakistan's hopes of getting some momentum in the death overs.

Malik top scored with 28 runs off 22 balls (three fours) while Akmal made 21 off 18 balls (one six). After they were dismissed, the rest of the batting collapsed losing last four wickets for 25 runs, closing the innings at 128 in 19.4 overs.

Balaji finished with figures of 3-22, while Ashwin (2-16) and Yuvraj (2-16) were the other main bowlers for India.

Chasing 129, India made a poor start as youngster Raza Hasan had Gautam Gambhir caught and bowled off the second ball of the innings. Virender Sehwag though curbed his natural instincts (and he needed to) to make sure that there was no further damage.

And with Virat Kohli playing his usually chanceless knock, they both took India away from danger, negating Pakistan's penetrative attack.

The duo added 75 runs in 61 balls for the second wicket. Sehwag made 29 runs off 24 balls, hitting four fours in the process. He was finally out, trying to go over the top off the bowling of Shahid Afridi, but just ended up holing out to Umar Gul.

His dismissal did not bring any joy to Pakistan, who now had to contend with Yuvraj Singh. He added 54 runs with Kohli for the third wicket, steering India to the finish line without breaking a sweat.

Kohli scored yet another half-century, finishing unbeaten on 78 off 61 balls. He hit eight fours and two sixes. Yuvraj (19) was also not out at the end, hitting the winning runs with three overs to spare.

This win now moves India up to third in the group, just behind Pakistan on Net Run Rate. Both teams need to win on Tuesday, against South Africa and Australia respectively, and then let mathematics decide on the second semi-finalist from this group.
© Cricket World 2012

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