London, June 04: Rohit Sharma tore apart Pakistan’s bowling attack with a 80-run blitzkrieg as India bulldozed their arch-rivals by nine wickets with three overs to spare in their final warm-up match of the ICC World Twenty20 on Wednesday night.
Chasing 159, Rohit and Gautam Gambhir (52 not out) raised 140 runs in just 16 overs for the opening stand to slam the door on Pakistan and India cruised to 159 for one in 17 overs to complete a facile win.
Rohit’s was a sublime 53-ball knock, bejewelled with nine fours and two sixes. In contrast, Gambhir played the second fiddle to perfection and was unbeaten after a 47-ball knock that included five hits to the fence.
Earlier, Pakistan got off to a flier before suffering a mid-innings slump even though they eventually reached a competitive 158 for six, thanks to cameos from Ahmed Shehzad (25), Younis Khan (32), Misbah-ul Haq (37 not out) and Yasir Arafat (25 not out).
But with Gambhir getting his mojo back and Rohit continuing his purple patch, India’s chase was off to a rollicking start and they never relaxed their grip.
Gambhir flicked the first ball from Umar Gul for a delectable four and ended the over in similar fashion.
Rohit, meanwhile, was not ready to be outshone.
Accordingly, Gul was hit over mid-on for a four, Yasir Arafat was dispatched in the stands for the first six of the match before copping two fours in his next over.
Shahid Afridi also found himself at the receiving end of Rohit’s wrath when the batsman smote him over midwicket for a huge six.
Though Rohit eventually fell in the 16th over, by then it was just a matter of formality for India.
Earlier, Pakistan got off to a flier but India’s disciplined bowling unit staged a remarkable comeback to restrict them to 158 for six.
Despite losing an early wicket, Pakistan cruised to 45 in just over four overs before losing three wickets without a single run added to the score.
After winning toss, Pakistan captain Younis Khan sent out teen twins Shahzaib Hasan (0) and Ahmed Shehzad (25) to open the innings but Hasan was back in the hut soon after Praveen Kumar’s fifth legitimate delivery pegged back his off-stump.
Shehzad’s too could have been a brief stay but Harbhajan Singh grassed a sitter at mid-wicket off RP Singh when the batsman was on five and India were made to pay for the clanger.
Shehzad shed all inhibitions and went after the Indian bowlers and suddenly it was raining boundaries at The Oval.
RP Singh copped two in the same over and Praveen didn’t escape unscathed either as Shehzad pulled and drove with elan.
Shehzad’s aggression proved contagious as Kamran Akmal (19) too started freeing his arms to good effect.
It was probably too good to last and Pakistan lost three wickets over five balls with Suresh Raina in the thick of action.
An airborne Raina first did a Jonty Rhodes to swoop on a ball and hit the stumps to remove Akmal and then placed himself under Shehzad’s miscued skier in the same Ishant Sharma over.
Shahid Afridi’s was a blink-and-miss stay as the swashbuckling right-hander bottom edged Irfan Pathan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni took a diving catch to remove him for a golden duck.
Shoaib Malik (14) started well before Pragyan Ojha snared the former captain in his first over and Pakistan were without their top half when the score reached 63.
Younis (32) and Misbah (37 not out) raised 50 runs in 7.3 overs but boundaries had dried up by then. Harbhajan got rid off Younis but Misbah and Arafat (25 not out) threw their bat at everything to push the score past the 150-mark.