India put up a thoroughly professional performance to thrash arch-rivals Pakistan by seven wickets in a one-sided opening group league encounter to launch their ICC World Twenty20 campaign in style.
At a packed Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, the Indian spinners did a commendable job in restricting Pakistan to a modest 130 for seven after electing to bowl. (FULL COVERAGE: ICC World T20)
Chasing the target, the Indian batsmen sent the opposition bowlers on a leatherhunt to canter home by seven wickets with nine balls to spare.
India thus maintained their clean slate against Pakistan in World Cup events as this is their fourth victory against the traditional foes in the marquee tournament of shortest versions. (PHOTOS: Walk in the park for MSD & Co)
Two in-form batsmen Virat Kohli (36 not out) and Suresh Raina (35 not out) made useful contributions as they added 66 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket to finish the match in style.
Kohli hit four fours and a six during his 32-ball knock, while Raina’s runs came off 35 balls with equal number of boundaries and six. (Harsha Bhogle: Can’t remember another world cricket event as open as this one)
The victory also was a sweet revenge for India’s last over loss against Pakistan at the same ground in the Asia Cup less than a month ago.
Everything went right for the ‘Men In Blue’ as they outbatted, outbowled and out-thought Pakistanis with Dhoni marshalling his resources really well.
After three quite overs, Rohit Sharma (24) decided to attack Junaid Khan as he cleared the short fine leg fielder for a boundary and slashed hard enough over point to get a six. The over got India 12 runs.
Not one to be left behind, Shikhar Dhawan (30), who had by then consumed 15 balls for his five, struck three boundaries. The first was muscled through square leg while the next was a tennis-bat like slap that went past the bowler and the third was a sweep behind square as another 12 runs came from the next over.
The 24 runs from the two overs got India on track and they didn’t have to look behind after that.
The shot of the match was Rohit lifting Umar Gul over long-on for a six. Ther 50 partnership came off 46 balls after which Dhawan perished.
Dhawan was finally done in by a short delivery from Gul which he tried to hook and the resultant skier was taken at deep fine leg by Saeed Ajmal.
Dhawan’s dismissal sparked a mini-collapse as trying to cut one from Ajmal that turned sharply from outside Rohit played on to the stumps.
Yuvraj Singh (1) was bowled even before his feet had started moving. The skiddy Bilawal Bhatti got one right in the blockhole as Yuvraj saw his off-stump dislodged before he could bring his bat down.
At 65 for three, Raina and Kohli joined hands. Raina started with a spanking square cut off Bhatti and pulled the bowler in-front of square for another four.
In between Kohli picked up Ajmal to deposit him into the deep mid-wicket stand.
Earlier, Indian spinners performed admirably to restrict Pakistan to the modest total.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to field three specialist spinners — Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin — and bowl first on a slowish track was vindicated as the trio gave away only 63 runs between them in the 12 overs and also removed three Pakistan batsmen, thereby putting brakes on their scoring rate.
Mishra (2/22), Jadeja (1/18) and Ashwin (0/23) all got a bit of help from the track which had a bit of bite and turn on offer.
While Ashwin bowled round the wicket to deny the batsmen any room to chance their arms, Jadeja bowled wicket to wicket with the odd delivery turning away from the right-hander.
Mishra too was bang on target with his flighted leg breaks and varied the length of his deliveries and pace through the air.
Dhoni rotated his bowlers brilliantly not letting the opposition batsmen to get away easily, frequently changing the ends.
For Pakistan, only Umar Akmal looked good during his 30-ball 33-run knock but couldn’t go on to get a big score.
Kamran Akmal hit a couple boundaries — one each off Ashwin and medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/21) before his partner Ahmed Shehzad’s indiscretion brought about his downfall.
The call was Shehzad’s, who came halfway down the track only to retreat back as Akmal couldn’t make it back to his crease. Bhuvneshwar did well to pick up and throw down the stumps on his follow-through.
Skipper Mohammad Hafeez (15) never looked comfortable during his 22-ball stay at the wicket. He should have been gone for five had his mistimed pull off Mohammed Shami been taken by a diving Yuvraj at deep square leg boundary.
But it did not cost India dearly as Hafeez gave Jadeja the charge only to mistime the shot and give a skier that was pounced well by Bhuvneshwar.
Shehzad (22 off 17 balls) did the initial hard work but Mishra out-thought him with a flighted delivery that turned away after pitching. It was a classical leg-break that drew the batsman forward and beat by flight as Dhoni gleefully whipped off the bails.
Umar Akmal played himself while Shoaib Malik (18) announced his arrival with a huge straight six off Mishra. The duo added 50 runs in seven overs but that certainly wasn’t enough.
Malik could have been out on 14 when he pulled an Ashwin carrom ball which Bhuvneshwar diving in-front failed to catch as the ball went past the boundary ropes.
But Mishra had his revenge when Malik was holed out at long-off boundary by Raina.
Umar also followed suit lofting Shami to Raina at long-off. Shahid Afridi’s (8) hit and miss game didn’t work as he tried to sweep Bhuvneshwar but gave Raina, his third catch of the day in the deep.
While Sohaib Maqsood hit Shami for a six and four to score a quickfire 21 off 11 balls, it wasn’t enough for Pakistan to get to a decent score.