Captain Babar Azam led by example as Pakistan beat India in a World Cup match for the first time ever with a 10-wicket romp in a Super 12 blockbuster at the Twenty20 World Cup on Sunday.
Virat Kohli played a captain’s knock of 57 to rescue India from a top-order wobble and help them post a competitive 151-7 in a rematch of the inaugural 2007 final.
His counterpart Babar combined with Mohammad Rizwan to get Pakistan off to a flying start and then overwhelmed the target with 13 balls to spare to snap India’s 100% win record against them in limited-overs World Cups.
Babar remained not out on 68, while Rizwan made an unbeaten 79.
Earlier, Skipper Virat Kohli wasn’t at his fluent best but his 57 off 49 balls was the saving grace in India’s middling score of 151 for seven against Pakistan.
His 29th half-century in T20 Internationals wasn’t as good as some of his other innings but considering that he diffused a potentially troubling situation created by Shaheen Shah Afridi’s (3/31 in 4 overs) menacing opening spell, this knock was significant.
Shaheen also did his bit at the death, removing the Indian skipper in the penultimate over.
Kohli got support from Rishabh Pant (39 off 30 balls) during a 53-run stand but had to do the bulk of heavy lifting in a pressure cooker scenario, something he has been accustomed to for the past one decade.
His innings had five fours and a six as India managed a score which would give the bowlers at least something to fight for on a track that can’t exactly be called batting-friendly. In an India-Pakistan game, one should always add “20 invisible runs”, simply because of the weight it carries.
Team #Pakistan, on cards, is very strong. Conditions are familiar. We have a surprise factor. All we need is a positive body language and good start. Bat or Bowl, be aggressive.
Apart from Batting, #BabarAzam has important role to play. Lead from the Front!!#INDvPAK #T20WorldCup
— Abdullah. (@SaidbyAbdullah) October 24, 2021
Shaheen, one of the most exciting fast bowlers produced two unplayable deliveries at the biggest stage under pressure, which any batter would have found difficult to negotiate.
The most difficult delivery from a left-arm fast bowler is the one that holds the line just when the batter had committed for the angle.
In the case of Rohit (0), before he could adjust his footwork, he got one that was pitched on block hole and straightened. It caught him plumb in-front.
KL Rahul (3) thought that the ball will straighten but it shaped in to breach his defence and disturb the off-stump.
Suryakumar Yadav (11) did get a six over backward square leg off Shaheen and a boundary off Imad Wasim (0/10 in 2 overs) but Hasan Ali bowled one back of the length which he edged while trying to cut and a diving Mohammed Rizwan behind the stumps pouched it.
Pant joined Kohli as the Powerplay score read a disastrous 36 for three. They added 53 runs in 6.4 overs to get some momentum back in an exciting stand dominated by the left-hander.
The Indian captain did show Shaheen, who is the boss as he made room by shuffling towards leg-stump and lofted him straight into his team’s dug-out for a six.
For Hasan Ali, he reserved an exquisite square drive before he let Pant take over the show, having partially stabilised the initial rot.
Watching that there is a fielder placed at ‘45’, Pant first played a lap shot off leg-spinner Shadab Khan (1/22 in 4 overs) and then back-cut Mohammed Hafeez from the middle-stump to get two boundaries.
But the real fun was when he smoked Hasan for two one-handed sixes. Shadab had the last laugh as a mistimed slog sweep turned into a return catch.
Kohli, who was playing the second fiddle then took charge as he attacked Hasan with a pull-shot and a then played a cover drive as 10 runs came off the 16th over.
However, Pakistani bowlers didn’t err much at the death to keep the score under check, credit for which should go to Harris Rauf (1/25 off 4 overs).
Reuters with additional input by GVS News Desk