India recovered from three early jolts, inflicted by a devastating spell from Mohammed Amir, before notching up a five-wicket victory against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup T20 tournament, here today.
Amir (3/18) rocked the Indian top-order with a fast and furious four-over spell but the small target of 84 was not good enough to stop the ‘Men In Blue’ who knocked off the runs with 27 balls to spare.
Indian bowlers had demolished the Pakistan batting line up with a superlative show as they bundled out the arch-rivals for a paltry 83 in only 17.3 overs after opting to field.
But it required the calm and class of Virat Kohli (49) to take India home without further setbacks as his 68-run stand for the fourth wicket with Yuvraj Singh (14 not out) proved to be decisive.
Kohli’s 51-ball innings had seven boundaries and he looked cut above any batsman, who featured in today's game.
This is their second win for India in the tournament and takes them a step closer to the final of the continental championship.
What was supposed to be a cakewalk turned out to be a brief nightmare for the Indians.
Rohit Sharma (0) and Ajinkya Rahane (0), replacing an injured Shikhar Dhawan, were beaten by sheer pace of Amir. They found the late movement at ferocious speed too hot to handle. The result was a couple of plumb leg-befores.
Suresh Raina’s (1) problems against short ball is well documented and Amir started teasing him with deliveries that kicked up viciously from length. Raina cut a sorry figure with his hop, skip and jump technique and when Amir bowled full, the left-hander expecting a shirt ball only lobbed it to Wahab Riaz at mid-on. India were tottering at 8 for 3 at that stage.
However, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi had no choice but to finish Amir’s spell, in order to get a couple of more wickets and stay in the game.
But it was Kohli, who has been Pakistan’s nemesis for some time now, showed why he is among the best in the world. He shielded Yuvraj from Amir by taking bulk of the strike. His footwork was precise and played close to the body.
In his final over Amir tried to change the tactic and Kohli promptly whipped towards square leg and cover drove him for two boundaries.
Once Amir’s spell was over, it was a formality for the Indians with Kohli gaining more confidence. Mohammed Irfan was deftly steered through third-man while Wahab was shown full face of the bat during the two imperious cover drives.
Yuvraj's job was to chip in with the singles and stem the rot that set in due to top-order collapse and he did his job.
By the time, Kohli was adjudged leg-before off Mohammed Sami's bowling, India were eight runs short of victory. It was Dhoni, who cover drove Wahab to finish off the match.