India too good for Pakistan in WT20 opener
India came up with a clinical all-round display to beat Pakistan by seven wickets in a one-sided opening Super-10 league match of the ICC World Twenty20 in Mirpur on Friday.
At a packed Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, the Indian spinners first did a commendable job in restricting Pakistan to a modest 130 for seven after electing to bowl. Then, chasing the not-too-big target, their batsmen sent the opposition bowlers on a leather hunt before completing victory with nine deliveries to spare.
India, thus, maintained their clean slate against Pakistan in World Cup events. This is their fourth victory over the traditional rivals in the marquee tournament of shortest versions.
In-form batsmen Virat Kohli (36 not out) and Suresh Raina (35 not out) made useful contributions, added 66 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket.
Kohli hit four fours and a six during his 32-ball knock, while Raina's runs came off 35 balls with an equal number of boundaries and a six.
The victory also was sweet revenge for India's last over loss at the same ground in the Asia Cup less than a month ago.
On Friday, everything went right for the 'Men In Blue' as they out-batted, out-bowled and out-thought the Pakistanis, with Dhoni marshalling his resources really well.
After three quite overs, Rohit Sharma (24) decided to attack Junaid Khan and cleared the short fine leg fielder for a boundary. He then slashed hard enough over point to get a six as India scored 12 runs from the over.
Shikhar Dhawan (30), who had by then consumed 15 balls for his five, also go into the thick of things and 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 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 did not look behind thereafter.
The shot of the match was Rohit lifting Umar Gul over long-on for a six. The 50 partnership came off 46 balls after which Dhawan perished.
He was finally done in by a short delivery from Gul which he tried to hook. The resultant skier was taken at deep fine leg by Saeed Ajmal.
Dhawan's dismissal sparked a mini-collapse, as Rohit, trying to cut one from Ajmal that turned sharply from outside, played on to the stumps.
Yuvraj Singh (1) was bowled even before his feet started moving. Bilawal Bhatti got one right in the blockhole and all Yuvraj could do was look behind and see his off-stump dislodged even before he could bring his bat down.
At 65 for three, Raina and Kohli joined hands. The former started with a spanking square cut off Bhatti and pulled the bowler in-front of square for another four.
In between Kohli punished Ajmal, depositing him into the deep mid-wicket stand.
Earlier, India’s spinners performed admirably to restrict Pakistan to a modest total.
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 12 overs and also removed three Pakistan batsmen.
Mishra (2-22), Jadeja (1-18) and Ashwin (0-23) all got 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 and got the odd delivery to turn away from the right-hander.
Mishra too was bang on target with his flighted leg breaks, and varied the length and pace of his deliveries.
For Pakistan, only Umar Akmal looked good during his 30-ball 33, 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. He came halfway down the track only to retreat. Akmal couldn't make it back to his crease before Bhuvneshwar picked up the ball and threw down the stumps on his follow-through.
Skipper Mohammad Hafeez (15) never looked comfortable during his 22-ball stay at the wicket. He would have been dismissed for five had his mistimed pull off Mohammed Shami been taken by a diving Yuvraj Singh at deep square leg boundary.
But it did not cost India dear as Hafeez gave Jadeja the charge only to mis-time the shot and offer a skier that was pouched 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. Dhoni had the easy task of whipping off the bails.
Umar Akmal played himself in 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 forward, failed to catch and the ball went past the boundary rope.
Mishra had his revenge, however, when he had Malik caught at the long-off boundary by Raina.
Umar also was back in the pavilion soon after, lofting Shami to Raina at long-off.
Shahid Afridi's (8) hit-and-miss game did not work. He tried to sweep Bhuvneshwar but gave Raina his third catch of the day in the deep.
Sohaib Maqsood hit Shami for a six and four to compile a quick 21 off 11 balls, but it wasn't enough for Pakistan to put up a decent total.