MIRPUR: Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina scored 36 off 32 balls and 35 off 28 balls respectively to defeat Pakistan in the first T20 World Cup match, in Mirpur on Friday.
India were in a spot of bother at 65 for three when Yuvraj was bowled by Bilawal Bhatti. Raina joined Kohli into the act and chased the target of 131 with 9 balls to spare.
Earlier, Indian spinners performed admirably to restrict Pakistan to a modest 130 for seven in the opening group league game of the ICC World Twenty20, in Mirpur on Friday.
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 Singh 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 today 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.
Brief Scores: India 131 for 3 (Kohli 36*, Raina 31*) beat Pakistan 130 for 7 (Umar Akmal 33, Mishra 2-22) by 7 wickets