March 20, 2016

Virat Kohli helps India pass Pakistan test - India v Pakistan, World T20 2016, Group 2, Kolkata

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A gritty 37-ball 55 from Virat Kohli helped a winless India beat a Pakistan by six wickets, and 13 balls to spare, on a spinner-friendly Eden Gardens pitch on Saturday.

India's bowlers, the spinners in particular, made the most of the conditions, after Captain MS Dhoni won the toss and pressed the opposition in to bat. Pakistan's inform openers, Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad found it difficult to answer questions posed by the bowlers early on.

The duo failed to inject the early impetus in the first Powerplay; and hit just three fours in the first five overs. The slow start prompted an error from Khan, who mistimed a pull to Hardik Pandya at long-on in the eighth over.

Pakistan turned to their Captain, Shahid Afridi, to bail them out of trouble with some lusty hitting. But, the usually free-scoring Afridi had no answer to the spin of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who regularly beat him with prodigious turn. Afridi fell for eight runs from 14 balls.

It took till the 14th over for Pakistan to cut loose. Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal targeted Pandya, and slammed him for two sixes to signal a gear switch. Jaspreet Bumrah was dispatched for two fours in the next over. Malik helped his side cross the 100-run mark before he fell in the 17th over. Pakistan managed just 118 in their rain-curtailed 18-over innings.

India's openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, who failed in their opener against New Zealand, failed again in their second-straight match. Mohammad Amir dismissed Sharma in the third over of the match, for just 10. Dhawan and Suresh Raina fell off successive deliveries two-overs later. The early collapse resembled India's batting story in the first match against New Zealand, where they failed to recover. The loss to New Zealand had "hurt" Kohli and he looked to make amends against Pakistan.

Kohli and Yuvraj Singh dropped anchor and began rebuilding the tattered innings. Kohli mixed caution with aggression, as he tackled the pitch. He fed his innings with 19 singles and a two and played a majority of his shots as late as he could, to counter the spin. Despite his cautious approach, Kohli hit seven fours and one six and allowed only nine dots in his innings. Singh contributed 24 runs to a match-winning 61-run partnership with Kohli.

Dhoni and Kohli added the finishing touches after Singh was dismissal in the 12th over. In six innings against Pakistan, Kohli has scored 254 runs, with three not-outs.

"It was a challenging wicket, that's what you want as a cricketer, new challenges to play," Kohli said. "Last game I was very disappointed to have got out, that really hurt ... even the 49 against Pakistan in Dhaka was really satisfying, that's what you need, a tough pitch a good bowling attack and you pulling your team out of trouble ... Yuvraj weathered the storm and then smacked a few, Yuvi style ... I think these performances are good for him as well, he's in good nick."

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