Shaheen Afridi rattled India’s top-order with his fiery left-arm pace to lay the foundation before the opening combination of Babar Azam (68 n.o., 52b, 6x4, 2x6) and Mohammad Rizwan (78 n.o., 55b, 6x4, 3x6) built on it to help Pakistan register its maiden win in a World Cup match against India in their ICC T20 World Cup opener at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday night.
The victory by 10 wickets and 13 balls to spare was Pakistan’s first against India in a World Cup after having lost 12 previous contests (seven in ODI and five in T20 World Cups).
Once Afridi struck a double blow to dismiss India’s openers Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul in his first two overs after Babar asked India to bat, the Indian innings — just like Kohli’s knock — couldn’t really take off. With Kohli (57, 49b, 5x4, 1x6) and Rishabh Pant (39, 30b, 2x4, 2x6) staging a recovery after the team lost three wickets in the PowerPlay, India put on 151 for seven.
Dominance of the openers
Babar and Rizwan then pulverised the Indian attack to take the team home in style. Such was the dominance of the two that all five of India’s specialist bowlers — Bhuvneshwar Kumar was preferred over Shardul Thakur as the third pace option — looked ordinary in conditions that favoured the batters as the evening progressed.
No wonder then that by the time captain Babar sprinted for the winning run, almost all the Indian supporters had disappeared from the stands, with Green replacing the Blue at the Ring of Fire. The game was, however, set up by Afridi’s impressive spell up front.
The lanky left-armer’s fourth ball, Rohit Sharma’s first, was a perfect inswinging yorker that thudded into the opener’s backfoot. In his next over, Afridi castled K.L. Rahul, the batter guilty of attempting to whip a fuller delivery on the leg-side.
At six for two in the third over, Suryakumar Yadav cleared the long-leg boundary with a pull off Afridi. Hasan Ali’s introduction in the last over of the PowerPlay saw Suryakumar nick to ’keeper Mohammad Rizwan, who lunged to his left to pouch his 100th catch.
Though the PowerPlay yielded just 32, Pant and Kohli batted sensibly for the next five overs before the former switched gears by going after Hasan. Pant hit audacious one-handed sixes off successive balls — over square-leg and mid-off — hinting at a momentum swing in the contest. However, the left-hander’s double-handed swat off leggie Shadab Khan’s googly did him in
.At the other end, Kohli rotated the strike well and also played the conventional strokes with aplomb. An on-drive off Afridi in the PowerPlay and a classic cover drive off Hasan were the pick of the shots. But, India’s innings turned out to be similar to that of Kohli’s — one that didn’t take off till the end.
K.L. Rahul b Afridi 3 (8b) , Rohit Sharma lbw b Afridi 0 (1b) , Virat Kohli c Rizwan b Afridi 57 (49b, 5x4, 1x6) , Suryakumar Yadav c Rizwan b Hasan 11 (8b, 1x4, 1x6) , Rishabh Pant c & b Shadab 39 (30b, 2x4, 2x6) , Ravindra Jadeja c sub (Nawaz) b Hasan 13 (13b, 1x4) , Hardik Pandya c Babar b Rauf 11 (8b, 2x4) , Bhuvneshwar Kumar (not out) 5 (4b) , Mohammed Shami not out 0 (0b) ; Extras (b-6, lb-1, w-4, nb-1): 12; Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs): 151.
FALL OF WICKETS 1-1 (Rohit, 0.4 ov), 2-6 (Rahul, 2.1), 3-31 (Suryakumar, 5.4), 4-84 (Pant, 12.2), 5-125 (Jadeja, 17.5), 6-133 (Kohli, 18.4), 7-146 (Hardik, 19.3).
PAKISTAN BOWLING Afridi 4-0-31-3, Imad 2-0-10-0, Hasan 4-0-44-2, Shadab 4-0-22-1, Hafeez 2-0-12-0, Rauf 4-0-25-1.
Mohammad Rizwan (not out) 78 (55b, 6x4, 3x6) , Babar Azam (not out) 68 (52b, 6x4, 2x6) ; Extras (lb-2, w-4): 6; Total (for no loss in 17.5 overs): 152.
INDIA BOWLING Bhuvneshwar 3-0-25-0, Shami 3.5-0-42-0, Bumrah 3-0-22-0, Varun 4-0-33-0, Jadeja 4-0-28-0.
Toss: Pakistan; MoM: Afridi.
Pakistan won by 10 wickets with 13 balls to spare.