India edge Pakistan in epic contest

Eden Gardens heard the chant ‘Sachin, Sachin’ twice on Saturday. First when legendary Sachin Tendulkar came for his speech during a pre-match show and once again when Virat Kohli batted.
The ‘Sachin’ of new generation, Kohli, protected India’s record against Pakistan at a world level ICC tournament with yet another sublime effort in a pressure-cooker situation.His unbeaten 55 off 37 balls helped India edge Pakistan by six wickets that also kept them afloat in the ICC World Twenty20 after their defeat against New Zealand in their opening match at Nagpur.
Mohammad Sami, selected surprisingly ahead of left-arm spinner Imad Wasim on a turning pitch, justified his inclusion with a twin blow in his first over which left India reeling on 23-3.
Set a target of 119 runs in the rain-reduced 18-over-a-side match, India were looking down the barrel before Kohli and Yuvraj Singh brought their innings back on track with the 61-run fourth wicket stand.
Kohli survived an incisive spell of Mohammad Amir in the Asia Cup and perhaps took some inspiration from his match-winning knock of 49 runs of that match to bat Pakistan out of the game.
Yuvraj gave Kohli an invaluable support in Dhaka and did exactly the same in front of their own fans as they rotated the strikes with one or two to keep the asking run rate within their grasp.
Yuvraj fell for 24 runs just when he started opening up clearing the distance off a Wahab Riaz short ball in the bowler’s second over. Wahab scalped Yuvraj in the same over, albeit with a poor ball, giving Pakistan an outside chance to comeback in the match.
Kohli drove Shahid Afridi for a brilliant four in the next ball to indicate that the loss of his partner was not going to affect him at all. He was batting at 33 when Yuvraj got dismissed and eased into his fifty off 34 balls with a single off Afridi.
MS Dhoni refused to make it any thriller hitting Mohammad Irfan a four and a six in the next over to finish the game in style.
He remained unbeaten on 13 following the script of the Asia Cup match between the two teams as India reached their target in the 16th over of their innings.
Kohli and Dhoni made the mockery of Eden Gardens’ pitch which initially looked like a minefield for the batsmen in two days after producing nearly 350 runs in Bangladesh-Pakistan match.
Dhoni realised it before anyone else and readily opted to bowl first once he won the toss. He started the bowling with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, whose ball turned like anything to force Pakistan batsmen in two minds before going for their shots.
As a result, first six overs of batting powerplay yielded just 28 runs and three fours though Pakistan somehow managed to remain unscathed. Suresh Raina brought India their first success when he had Sharjeel Khan caught by Hardik Pandya at mid-on for 17 in the eighth over of the innings.
Afridi, buoyed on by his 49 off 19 balls against Bangladesh, promoted himself in one-down position but could not replicate his performance. The Pakistan captain soon lost his partner Ahmed Shehzad (25) to Jasprit Bumrah before Kohli began his day’s show with a catch at deep midwicket off Pandya to end Afridi’s 14-ball innings of eight.
Umar Akmal, out for a duck against Bangladesh, shared 41 runs with Shoaib Malik to give Pakistan innings some respectability.
Malik scored highest 26 while Akmal added 22 but they came agonisingly short as India recorded their first win over Pakistan at a limited over game at Eden.

-With New Age input

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