Kolkata:Title favourites India maintained their stranglehold over arch-rivals Pakistan in ICC events with a comprehensive six-wicket victory to keep their World T20 campaign alive, riding on Virat Kohli’s classy unbeaten 55, here tonight.
In a low scoring rain-curtailed showdown, the hosts restricted Pakistan to 118 for five in 18 overs and then overhauled the target in 15.5 overs on a viciously turning track at the Eden Gardens.
Kohli was head and shoulders above the rest in terms of quality of batsmanship as his 37-ball innings had seven fours and a six. On a day, when the next best score was 26 from opposition’s Shoaib Malik, Kohli showed why he is one of best in contemporary world cricket.
The win also helped India stay alive in the tournament after a shocking 47 run loss to New Zealand in the opening 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.
The win also was special as this was India’s first win against Pakistan at the hallowed Eden Gardens.
It was yet another time when Kohli anchored an Indian chase to perfection with the kind of solidity and responsibility that is expected of country’s No 1 batsman.
Three weeks back in Mirpur, it was seaming track where Kohli showed his artistry. On Saturday, it was turning track but it did not deter him from playing another classical innings where not a single shot was out of the book.
He did not wilt under pressure, let the torrid time pass through and then encashed on the loose deliveries.
With Yuvraj Singh (24), he added 61 runs for the fourth wicket just after the hosts were reeling at 23 for three.
Rohit Sharma (10) teed off in the second over when he square Muhammad Irfan and then played the short arm pull but did not last long as he gave a skier off Amir which Shoaib Malik judged well.
There seem to be no end to struggle of Shikhar Dhawan (6 off 15 balls) as Muhammad Sami got him played on with a fast delivery that skidded in.
Suresh Raina (0) was out off the very next ball as he failed to negotiate Sami’s pace to make it 23 for three.
In Sami’s next over, Kohli opened his bat face to steer one to the point boundary while Yuvraj hit a cover drive in their bid to release a bit of pressure.
They took the score past 50 after which Kohli hit a second pull shot off Wahab Riaz.
Kohli then swept Malik for a six and a boundary with 14 runs coming off 11th over as the match decisively swung in India’s favour.
As if he was complementing Kohli, Yuvraj played an imperious pull shot off the first ball of Riaz’s next over as the equation came down to less than run a ball as the win looked imminent.
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