Adelaide, Feb 15:
India had won all their previous five meetings 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 advantage to a perfect tennis scoreline of 6-0.
India once again came out on top in the high-octane clash to defeat Pakistan in their World Cup opener at the picturesque Adelaide Oval. A special century by vice-captain Virat Kohli (107) guided India to 300/7 which Pakistan failed to chase down, being 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 looked in prime touch until he 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 being 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 which boosted his team’s run rate close to run-a-ball.
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 notch up his 22nd One-Day International (ODI) hundred, which was punctuated by eight boundaries. For stats freaks, this is the first century by an Indian against Pakistan in a World Cup contest.
Kohli was given reprieve twice during his innings. In the beginning, he was dropped by Yasir at long-on — a difficult chance. If Yasir would have taken the catch, it would have been a blinder. The 26-year-old was again dropped by wicketkeeper Umar Akmal while 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. A tired Kohli slashed hard at a wide ball only to be caught behind, bringing an end to the 110-run third-wicket partnership with Raina.
His wicket led to a collapse of the Indian batting order as Raina, Ravindra Jadeja (3), skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (18) and Ajinkya Rahane (0) all perished quickly.
It was just the fillip Pakistan needed as some brilliant death bowling by Sohail and Wahab Riaz (1/49) allowed India 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. IANS