Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
India batsman Virat Kohli scored a gutsy 49 to lead his side to a five-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan in Mirpur.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni would have been ecstatic with his decision to bowl first as Pakistan never got out of the starting blocks.
With their batting order collapsing, wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed tried to keep India at bay, but only managed to make 25 before he was clean bowled by Ravindra Jadeja.
With debutant Khurram Manzoor being the only other batsman to reach double figures, Pakistan were bundled out for 83, which is their third-lowest total in Twenty20 Internationals.
Hardik Pandya was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Jadeja snapped up two and Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah and Yuvraj Singh chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 84 to win, Pakistan left-arm pace bowler Mohammad Amir wreaked havoc right away as he removed Rohit Sharma on the second ball of the innings before trapping Ajinkya Rahane lbw for a golden duck two balls later.
In his next over, Amir claimed the wicket of Suresh Raina before Kohlia and Singh stemmed the bleeding with a 68-run partnership.
Mohammad Sami provided the breakthrough when Kohli was given out lbw for 49 off 51 balls, which included seven boundaries. However, replays showed that Kohli should not have been given out as he had inside edged the ball onto his pads, which was why he had a wry smile on his face and shook his head as he walked back to the pavilion.
Despite getting the wicket of Pandya two balls later, Pakistan were unable to stop India from reaching their target with 27 balls to spare.
Amir was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Sami claimed two.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi was extremely disappointed with his side’s performance, and said: “We have played so much cricket, we should have read the pitch, we did not play according to the pitch, if we lose 4-5 batsmen in the first six overs, we can’t score 140. We had to read the situation, Kohli was an example, and Yuvi. If we had survived the fast bowlers, there wasn’t much turn on the pitch for their spinners.”
Dhoni was thrilled to have won the match, and said: “We are a team that loves to play aggressive cricket but this pushes us to respect the conditions which will be good going into the WT20. I’m glad we restricted them to 85 runs, 100 or 110 runs and the game was on. The fast bowlers did well but even after that we took wickets at regular intervals which is crucial to stop runs in this format. We have to be switched on in the field, that is one department where you can guarantee performance, one run out can take the game away from the opposition.”
Kohli was named Man of the Match, and said: “It wasn’t an easy wicket to bat on, I wasn’t happy with myself in the last game, where I went too hard at the ball, I had to respect the conditions, I made mistakes in the last innings but I dug in this time. I would like to congratulate Mohammad Amir for the way he bowled, I actually congratulated him while he was bowling. It was amazing to play such a spell. Counterattacking is the game I play, that’s why I bat at no.3 but sometimes you have to respect the conditions and play that way. It is very important to be able to change your shot at the last moment in such conditions…you need to be switched on mentally, stay calm and relaxed.”