Virat on fire
Adelaide: Defending champions India launched their Cricket World Cup campaign in emphatic fashion as they produced a clinical performance to spank Pakistan by 76 runs, maintaining their unbeaten record against the arch-rivals in the mega event on Sunday.
In the high-voltage contest between the bitter rivals, India again emerged victorious in a rather one-sided affair, thus maintaining their impressive record against Pakistan by winning the sixth consecutive World Cup game since the rivalry started way back in 1992.
It was a commendable all-round effort by Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men who first posted a competitive total of 300/7 riding on Virat Kohli’s 22nd ODI hundred and then bundled out the opposition for 224 in 47 overs at the Adelaide Oval to secure two points.
Mohammad Shami (4/35 ), Umesh Yadav (2/50), Mohit Sharma (2/35) and Ravichandran Ashwin (1/41) were the pick of the Indian bowlers as they kept taking wickets to put pressure on the Pakistani batsmen. Captain Misba-ul Haq (76), Ahmed Shehzad (47) and Haris Sohail (36) were the notable contributors. Mohit Sharma took the last wicket of Sohail Khan to bring about India’s moment of glory, sending the sizeable Indian crowd at the stadium into a frenzy while the players hugged each other to celebrate the triumph, their first victory in Australia since landing here in November last year. Pakistan were well placed at 102 for two at one stage but a middle-order collapse effected by the trio of Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Yadav ended any hopes that Misbah ul Haq and his men harboured of bucking the trend of losing to India in big-ticket ICC events.
Electing to bat, Virat Kohli marked his return to form with a crafty 107 while Shikhar Dhawan (73) and Suresh Raina (74) were the other notable performers to steer India to a competitive total of 300 for seven in hot conditions. Kohli continued his love affair with the Adelaide Oval as his century knock came off 126 balls with eight boundaries and he shared a 110-run partnership with Raina for the third wicket.
India could have got a bigger score had it not been for some excellent death bowling by the Pakistani pace bowlers. Their young fast bowler Sohail Khan (5/55) checked the Indian surge by bowling a tight line and length. India wobbled in the last five overs, losing five wickets for only 27 runs which stopped them short of the projected score of 325. While Pakistan could never force the pace, they lost the match between the 24th and 25th over losing three wickets for only 1 run.
From 102 for 2 at the start of 24th over, they slumped to 103 for five with Yadav getting two wickets and Jadeja getting one. The phase saw Ahmed Shehzad (47), Sohaib Maqsood (0) and Umar Akmal (0) getting out in quick succession.