Pakistan achieved a victory for the ages crushing fierce rivals India by ten wickets in the teams’ opening Twenty20 World Cup group match on Monday (AEST).
Pakistan put India into bat and restricted them to 7-151 in Dubai, Shaheen Afridi taking three key wickets for 31. Only Virat Kohli (57) and Rishad Pant (39) made any impact with the bat.
Their performances were dwarfed by Mohammad Rizwan (79 no off 55 balls) and Babar Azam (68 no off 52 balls) who compiled a beautifully constructed unbroken partnership of 152 to win the match with more than two overs to spare.
Indian captain Kohli said: “We did not execute the things we wanted to, but credit where it is due, Pakistan outplayed us today. With the ball they started brilliantly,
“It is just the start of the tournament, not the end, it is important to stay composed, understand our strengths and what we want to do in the middle.”
Geo-politics means these teams rarely meet. This was the first T20 clash since the last World Cup in 2016 and the first meeting in any format since the 2019 50-over World Cup in England. India won both those matches and had never previously lost to Pakistan at a World Cup.
All of which made Pakistan’s victory all the sweeter.
With a near full-house watching on, and hundreds of millions on television worldwide, Shaheen began sensationally dismissing Rohit Sharma for a first-ball duck in his opening over and KL Rahul for three in his second.
But Suryakumar Yadav hit the last ball of that over for six and Kohli smacked another six off his third over.
However, Yadav perished for 11, caught behind off Hasan Ali, leaving India 3-31 in the sixth over, forcing Kohli and Pant to consolidate.
They did, running well and taking few risks to accumulate 35 off the next five overs.
Then Pant decided it was time to fire, flogging Hasan for two sixes, taking 15 off the 12th over.
But in the next he skied Shadab Khan and was caught for a 30-ball 39. Advantage Pakistan again.
Kohli, meanwhile, had been steady garnering runs reaching a 45-ball half-century in the 18th over. In the following over, however, Shaheen’s slower-ball bouncer deceived Kohli and he was caught for 57.
Ultimately India scrapped their way to 151. If it was to be enough they needed to make early inroads but, as Kohli said, “they did not give us any chances and were very professional.”
Pakistan cracked 18 off their first two overs closing the six-over powerplay at 0-43. With Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan running well and hitting judiciously they had progressed to 0-71 by the ten-over mid-point.
Nothing India’s powerful bowling attack did made an impact and the result was evident long before Pakistan’s skipper struck the winning shot. However, as joy broke out across Pakistan Babar cautioned: “There is a long way to go in the tournament.”