Completely foxed by the turning Eden Gardens wicket, senior Pakistan batsman Shoaib Malik said their batting unit needs to take cue from Virat Kohli as the Indian vice-captain’s classy knock on a difficult pitch turned out to be the difference between the two teams.
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Kohli was head and shoulders above the rest in terms of quality of batsmanship as he played a special knock of unbeaten 55 runs off just 37 balls on a difficult pitch to guide India to a convincing six-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan in a rain-curtailed ICC World Twenty20 match on Saturday night.
“Our total was not enough to defend against such a great batting line-up. We should give credit to Virat Kohli’s innings. He was the only difference between the two teams,” Malik said at the post-match press conference late on Saturday night.
“He (Kohli) backs his skills and that’s his key. He reads the situation well. He knows how to play on any difficult or flat track. That’s why he’s very consistent. You’re the best coach of yourself. If you talk to yourself you will have all the answers. As a batting unit we also need to do the same thing,” he said.
“The conditions are not in our hands but yes one area we have to improve on is our batting. We have to work a lot. When the ball was turning a lot we should have played sweep or reverse sweeps more often. Those shots are helpful on a big turning wicket as it breaks the spinners line.
“There are areas we need to improve, especially our batting. Even though it was a tough pitch to bat on, I feel we could have set a better target,” Malik added.
In a low scoring rain-curtailed showdown, India first restricted Pakistan to 118 for five and then overhauled the target in 15.5 overs on a viciously turning track.
With a moisture-laden pitch on offer following rains, Pakistan went by their strength and included four seamers in the playing eleven, leaving out left-arm spinner Imad Wasim.
But the plan backfired as to the suprise of all and sundry the wicket was turning viciously from the first over.
Malik later admitted that the Pakistan team management completely misread the wicket.
“We were not really expecting this kind of pitch. We expected it to behave the way it did against Bangladesh. Compared it to the last wicket and it didn’t see any different. In fact, it seemed a better wicket than that. We did not expect so much of spin on this wicket,” Malik said.
“Even (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni said the same thing. These are things beyond our control. Obviously weather is not in your control. We also lost the toss but it’s part of the game.”
This was India’s 11th consecutive win over Pakistan in the ICC World tournaments with Kohli scoring third successive half-century against them in last three world editions of shortest format.
Asked about the jinx, Malik said: “We have lost to other teams in World Cups but it becomes big when it comes to India. Credit should be given to the Indian team and the way they played on a difficult pitch.”
Malik also backed his skipper Shahid Afridi’s decision to promote himself at No.3 position in place of Mohammad Hafeez.
“Everyone is flexible in T20 format. Our opening pair took a lot of overs and Afridi was in form, we should not ignore that. It’s captain who always leads from the front and he felt he could score freely on a wicket which was difficult and he took that decision,” he said of Afridi, who scored just eight from 14 balls on Saturday.