Virat Kohli struck a brilliant unbeaten half-century as India stayed in the hunt for a semi-final with a big eight-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan in the Super Eights match of the World Twenty20 at the Premedasa Stadium here Sunday.
Kohli remained unbeaten on 78 off 61 balls as India achieved the target of 129 losing two wickets and 18 balls to spare and maintained their all-win record against Pakistan in a World Cup event.
It was a dominating performance by India in a must win situation and also broke the jinx. The win was India’s first in Super Eights since winning the title in the inaugural edition in 2007.
Opting to bat first, Pakistan were bundled out for 128 runs with two balls to spare. India’s comeback man Lakshmipathy Balaji was exceptional in the death overs and finished with three for 22 in 3.4 overs. Spinners Yuvraj Singh (2/16) and Ravichandran Ashwin (2/16) bowled tightly on a track that helped the tweakers.
While chasing, India made a disastrous start as Gautam Gambhir was dismissed in the second delivery with left-arm spinner Raza Hussain taking a good catch of his own bowling.
But from there on Virender Sehwag (29) and Kohli took the attack to the Pakistani bowlers as India recovered from 0/1 to 75 for two.
Sehwag justified his selection in the team with an array of well timed strokes to raise the tempo. Kohli took off from where Sehwag left. Kohli smashed eight fours and two sixes in his unbeaten knock.
Their 75-run stand was broken after Sehwag tried to hit out Shahid Afridi but failed to clear the long-off boundary where Umar Gul took a good catch just above his head.
Kohli and Yuvraj (19 not out) were then involved in a 54-run stand for the third wicket to take India home safely.