Adelaide (IANS): India had won all their previous five matches against Pakistan in the World Cup and it was no different Sunday as the defending champions defeated their neighbours by 76 runs to take the score to 6-0.
India once again came out on top in the high-octane clash to defeat Pakistan in their World Cup opener at the Adelaide Oval. A special century by vice-captain Virat Kohli (107) guided India to 300/7 which Pakistan failed to chase down. They were bowled out for 224 in 47 overs.
Statistics showed that Pakistan have never chased more than 262 successfully and India have always defended a total of 300 or more in the quadrennial event. Both teams allowed the records to continue.
Opting to bat, India got off to a fluent start through openers Rohit Sharma (15) and Shikhar Dhawan (73). Rohit gifted away his wicket while trying to pull a not-so-short delivery in the eighth over.
However, Dhawan struck an important second-wicket 129-run partnership with Kohli which gave India the platform to put up a big total. Dhawan looked good to score a hundred but confusion in the 30th over with Kohli resulted in him getting run out.
It was the perfect opportunity for Pakistan to capitalise with India at 163 for two with 20 overs to go. However, big-hitter Suresh Raina made sure his wicket counted for India as he smashed 74 off just 56 balls.
His innings, which was studded with five fours and three sixes, made Kohli take the backseat as he targeted leg-spinner Yasir Shah (0/60).
Meanwhile, Kohli played the anchor’s innings and applied his sublime touch to register his 22nd One-Day International (ODI) hundred, which was punctuated by eight boundaries. It was the first century by an Indian against Pakistan in a World Cup contest.
Kohli was later declared the Man-of-the-Match. “Probably one of the biggest in my career so far,” said Kohli, when asked if his latest century was the best knock he has played in his career.
Kohli was given reprieve twice during his innings. In the beginning, he was dropped by Yasir at long-on. The 26-year-old was again dropped by wicketkeeper Umar Akmal at 76.
India were looking at getting a 330-plus total while batting at 273/2 in the 45th over when Sohail Khan (5/55) struck for Pakistan by clinching Kohli’s prized wicket.
His wicket led to a collapse as Raina, Ravindra Jadeja (3), skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (18) and Ajinkya Rahane (0) all perished quickly.
Pakistan gave away only 27 runs in the last five overs as the 1992 edition champions clinched five wickets. Sohail, playing in only his sixth ODI, picked up his first five-wicket haul.
In reply, Pakistan looked steady at the start despite losing experienced batsman Younis Khan (6) cheaply in the fourth over.
Opener Ahmed Shehzad (47) and Haris Sohail (36) were batting solidly at 79/1 in the 18th over when the latter edged one to Raina in the slips.
Soon three wickets — Ahmed Shehzad, Sohaib Maqsood (0) and Umar Akmal (0) — in the span of eight deliveries turned the match in favour of the two-time champions. Suddenly from 102/2, Pakistan were tottering at 103/5.
The Pakistani lower order could not offer much of a fight and the only person in between India and their victory was captain Misbah-ul-Haq (76), who scored his 39th half-century. He kept running out of partners and was eventually caught at mid-wicket in the 46th over.
Pacer Mohammed Shami was the pick of the Indian bowlers as he notched up 4/35 from nine overs while spinner Ravichandran Ashwin’s (1/41) brilliant spell, which included three maidens, slowed down the Pakistani innings.
Dhoni lauded the team for rising to the occasion and delivering a performance worthy of becoming the champions.
“It was a very good performance,” said Dhoni.
“I was very happy with our batting. When you are batting first, it is not easy over here. It doesn’t come on that nicely.”
He expressed satisfaction at the way the batsmen applied themselves.
“It was important we stayed in the middle. The big partnership between Virat and Shikhar. And then Raina capitalised as well.”
Misbah was gracious in defeat and congratulated India for their superlative performance.
“They posted a big total, and bowled really well. We lost our way with three wickets in the middle,” he said.
“The pitch was really good, and with the quality of their batting, 300 was a pretty good effort. If all the batsmen had batted well, it could have been achieved.”
India play South Africa in their next group assignment Feb 22 in Melbourne.