Recap: A majestic innings from Virat Kohli helped India keep their World Twenty20 hopes very much alive thanks to a six-wicket victory over Pakistan at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. On a difficult, turning pitch, Pakistan had set what looked a highly competitive total of 118 from 18 overs in a match that was shortened by a rain delay of about an hour. But India ultimately reached it with a degree of comfort, in large part thanks to a superb 55 not out from 37 balls from Kohli, who belied the struggles the other batsmen had endured.
Having being stunned in an opening loss to New Zealand, it was imperative that India rebounded with a victory over their rivals, who were coming into the contest following an impressive victory over Bangladesh.
Everyone was forced to wait for the hugely anticipated contest, however, as a storm in the late afternoon in Kolkata delayed the start and reduced the match by two overs a side. When it did get underway, it was clear that the pitch was turning far more than anyone had anticipated.
As a result, Pakistan got off to a slow start, with both openers, Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad going at less than a run a ball. Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya each got a wicket, but it was the spinners who were giving Pakistan the real headaches. Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina and Ravichandran Ashwin all went for five runs or less an over to constantly keep the pressure on Pakistan. Shoaib Malik was the only man who showed signs of being able to cut loose in his 26 from 22 balls.
Still, there total looked challenging, especially given the way India had failed to chase down a modest total against New Zealand on a similarly turning pitch. India looked in trouble, too, when two wickets in two balls from Mohammad Sami left India at 23-3 in the fifth over. However, as captain Shahid Afridi admitted afterward, Pakistan’s seam heavy attack was the wrong call on a pitch that so aided spin.
And Pakistan couldn’t shift Kohli. His partnership of 61 with Yuvraj Singh was the defining one of the match. And Kohli was the undoubted man of the match, hitting eight boundaries on a pitch where no-one else managed more than four, before captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni came in to provide the final flourish with a big six and then a single to get over the line.
Not only does it maintain India’s hopes in this tournament but it continues their 100 percent record over Pakistan in Twenty20 and 50-over World Cups to 11 victories.
India Win! 119-4 from 15.5 overs to claim victory by six wickets with 13 balls remaining
The supreme finisher Mahendra Singh Dhoni gets India over the line, first with a massive six over the long-on boundary. But the star for India was Virat Kohli. His superb 55 not out guided his side to what in the end was a comfortable victory. The pitch was far from easy out there, but he made it looked so with his wonderful timing and shot-making. India have extended their 100 percent record against Pakistan in T20 and 50-over World Cups to 11 victories. More importantly for the immediate time, they have got their World T20 campaign up and running in what was a must-win match.
15th over: India 106-4 (Kohli 50, Dhoni 5)
The 50 comes up for Virat Kohli and gives a little bowed salute to the crowd. What an innings it’s been. Sachin Tendulkar watches on at an innings the great man would have been proud of.
14th over: India 99-4 (Kohli 45, Dhoni 3)
Kohli is just oozing class out there. With impeccable timing he pushes the ball through cover for four off the final ball of the over from Amir. Now just 20 runs needed from 24 balls. Pakistan need wickets now.
13th over: India 91-4 (Kohli 39, Dhoni 1)
Kohli shows no sign of being perturbed by Yuvraj’s dismissal, striking a gorgeous cover drive off Afridi’s first ball for four. Another three singles keeps India well on track with 28 runs required from the final 30 balls.
12th over: India 84-4 (Kohli 33)
Yuvraj had picked up right where Kohli left off, smashing the first ball of Wahab Riaz’s over high over the boundary at midwicket for six. But he was soon caught looking for another maximum to bring in captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni out to bat. Can the captain, alongside the man who now captains the Test side, Kohli, lead India to victory here?
WICKET! Yuvraj (v Sami b Wahab 24) India 84-4
Just as India were getting firmly on top and looking comfortable, Yuvraj mistimes off a poor ball from Wahab and fires it straight into the grateful arms of Mohammad Sami at cow corner. Pakistan badly needed that.
11th over: India 74-3 (Kohli 31, Yuvraj 16)
A big over for India. Their first six arrives with Kohli sweeping the ball with just enough distance over backward square leg. And Kohli follows it up by hitting a fuller ball through midwicket for four. As so often, Kohli is playing superbly and looking capable of guiding India to a mammoth victory here.
10th over: India 60-3 (Kohli 20, Yuvraj 15)
Kohli gets four off the first ball from Wahab Riaz with a flat pull over midwicket that Sharjeel got across to but couldn’t prevent from making it to the boundary. Another six-run over and India now needed 59 more from 48 balls. Pakistan will be desperate to break up this partnership. Pakistan were 51-2 at this stage.
9th over: India 54-3 (Kohli 15, Yuvraj 14)
The finger spin of Shoaib Malik is called for and he finds some turn and bounce, clipping the glove of Yuvraj, but with no slip in place it falls to safety. Some more singles bring India’s 50 up and they are 11 runs ahead of where Pakistan were at the halfway stage, albeit with two wickets less in hand.
8th over: India 46-3 (Kohli 13, Yuvraj 9)
Kholo and Yuvraj are settling in nicely now, both moving the ball around the field for singles and keeping the scoreboard ticking over. Six runs off Afridi’s second over.
7th over: India 40-3 (Kohli 10, Yuvraj 6)
Kohli shows his class with a guided shot for four behind point. And Yuvraj gets in on the act, too, striking a fine shot through the off side and just beating Amir to the boundary. 12 runs off the over and just what India needed after those two quick wickets.
6th over: India 28-3 (Kohli 3, Yuvraj 1)
Pakistan go for their first over of spin, and it’s their captain Shahid Afridi who bowls it. Not known for his turning ability, on this pitch even he manages to get plenty of movement, indeed too much as he gets two wides. Still just five runs taken from the over.
5th over: India 23-3 (Kohli 1, Yuvraj 0)
What a first over that is for Mohammad Sami. He didn’t get the hat-trick, but two wickets in two balls has put Pakistan in the ascendency and leaves Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh at the crease badly needing to get a partnership going.
WICKET! Raina (b Sami 0) India 23-3
Raina’s gone first ball and Mohammad Sami is now on a hat-trick! Raina has played onto his own stumps, too, getting too late to a climbing ball and sending his leg stump cart wheeling out of the ground.
WICKET! Dhawan (b Sami 6) India 23-2
Dhawan had got a boundary with Mohammed Sami’s first ball, but he has never really looked settled out there. And with a short ball between middle and off, he has played onto his own stumps to give Pakistan another breakthrough. A good start this for Afridi’s side.
4th over: India 18-1 (Dhawan 2, Kohli 1)
A much better second over from Irfan, this time keeping India’s batsmen bottled up and under pressure. Two singles from it.
3rd over: India 16-1 (Dhawan 1, Kohli 0)
A fine over from Mohammad Amir. Just the two runs off it and the wicket of Rohit Sharma. Virat Kohli is in for India. So often the man to shepherd India through their innings, can Kohli deliver again in what is an ultra high-pressure situation.
WICKET! Rohit Sharma (c Malik, b Amir 10) India 14-1
Sharma looked to hit it over the top, but the shot was never on and he just scooped it high into the air. Plenty of Pakistan fielders were around the ball, but the height on the ball made it a difficult catch. It appeared initially that Shoaib Malik might have dropped it, instead he held on for a fine catch. Pakistan get an early breakthrough.
2nd over: India 14-0 (Sharma 10, Dhawan 1)
Sharma cuts the first ball from Mohammad Irfan over point and down to the boundary for four. And then pulls another quick, short ball for another four. India will be happy to keep getting balls down at that pace, what they don’t want are deliveries that utilize the turn in the pitch. That’s 10 runs off the over and a rethink needed by Irfan.
1st over: India 4-0 (Sharma 1, Dhawan 1)
A wide and a leg-bye off the first over from Mohammad Amir. The pace bowler caused India plenty of problems when these two sides met at the Asia Cup last month, but no real danger from that over apart froma swing and a miss on the final ball. A single each for Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
Here’s a look at some of the highlights form Pakistan's innings:
Pakistan total: 118-5 from 18 overs
Pakistan will be reasonably happy to have posted a competitive total after a slow start on a raging turner of a pitch. India will be glad to know what they have to do, but they failed in similar circumstances when chasing just 127 against New Zealand. The big question is, tough, whether they have enough spin options to take advantage of this pitch. Selecting four seamers certainly doesn’t appear the way to go on this pitch.
18th over: Pakistan 118-5 (Sarfraz 8, Hafeez 5)
Surprisingly it’s Bumrah rather than a spinner who gets the final over. But the decision is vindicated with Pakistan only able to get seven off it and fail to get a boundary. So 118 is the total for India to chase from their 18 overs. That may not sound like much, but this pitch is a nightmare for batsmen and Indisa had plenty of trouble chasing a modest total on a turning pitch against New Zealand.
17th over: Pakistan 111-5 (Sarfraz 7, Hafeez 1)
Nehra gets the wicket, but gets hit for four by Sarfraz after a full delivery. That’s not the way to go on this pitch as his shorter ball for the wicket showed.
WICKET! Shoaib Malik (c Ashwin, b Nehra 26) Pakistan 105-5
Nehra bounced it short into the pitch and trapped Malik for space, who hit it high up into the air for Ashwin to make the catch at short fine leg. Two big quick-fire wickets for India. Malik had been the pick of Pakistan's batsmen.
16th over: Pakistan 103-4 (Malik 24, Sarfraz 2)
Sarfraz Ahmed is the new man in and he gets off the mark right away, with a good chip shot over the bowler.
WICKET! Umar Akmal (c Dhoni, b Jadeja 22) Pakistan 101-4
That’s a big blow delivered by India to break up that partnership. Jadeja gets big turn away from Akmal, who edges it off the foot of the bat to Dhoni behind the wicket.
15th over: Pakistan 95-3 (Akmal 21, Malik 19)
Akmal get s a free hit after a no ball from Bumrah, but he can’t take advantage, getting just a single down to deep cover. Malik, though, is getting into his groove nicely, punishing two full tosses down to the boundaries four. That’s poor from Bumrah to ease the pressure on Pakistan.
14th over: Pakistan 82-3 (Akmal 19, Malik 9)
The first six of the innings arrives for Pakistan, and it’s a double! First Shoaib Malik takes a slower ball from Pandya and smashing it into the stands at deep midwicket before Umar Akmal repeats the trick with a flatter blow over the long-on boundary. That’s exactly what Pakistan have to do to Pandya, who surely presents their best chance to get the run-rate going upwards. It’s now creeping toward six runs an over.
13th over: Pakistan 67-3 (Akmal 12, Malik 1)
Only two runs taken off Nehra’s third over. Pakistan will be disappointed with that, especially with Shoaib Malik just getting a single off a full toss. Pakistan have to take every chance they get for runs out there.
12th over: Pakistan 65-3 (Akmal 11, Malik 0)
The over ends in farcical circumstances as Jadeja tries to get a run out but while he hits the stumps, Pakistan were safe and the ball ended up ricocheting off the stumps and flying down to the midwicket boundary to give Pakistan five valuable runs. Still Pandya did manage to get the wicket of the dangerous Afridi in his first over. Shoaib Malik is the new man to get tested on this pitch.
WICKET! Shahid Afridi (c Kohli, b Pandya 8) Pakistan 60-3
Pakistan had looked to take advantage of Pandya’s introduction into the attack, but captain Afridi was caught out by a slower ball and just smashed it straight to Virat Kohli at mid on.
11th over: Pakistan 54-2 (Afridi 8, Akmal 1)
Some of these deliveries from Jadeja are just unplayable. The best Pakistan can do is squirt a couple of shots away for singles. Just the three off that over.
10th over: Pakistan 51-2 (Afridi 6, Umar Akmal 0)
Bumrah concedes a couple of boundaries off his first over back, but gets the wicket of Shehzad to deprive Pakistan of both of their openers. Umar Akmal is the next man in for Pakistan.
WICKET! Ahmed Shehzad (c Jadeja, b Bumrah 25) Pakistan 46-2
Bumrah got scooped for four on his first ball back, but with his second Shehzad looked to fire it through deep cover but got it wrong and was comfortably caught by Jadeja running back from point.
9th over: Pakistan 42-1 (Shehzad 21, Afridi 1)
Jadeja finds some quite ridiculous turn, leaving the batsmen utterly bamboozled. It’s just about surviving out there, which is not great for a Twenty20 pitch. Anything around 120 and Pakistan might be happy.
8th over: Pakistan 39-1 (Shehzad 19, Afridi 0)
Captain Shahid Afridi again promotes himself up the order as he did when making a quick-fire 49 against Bangladesh. He’s unlikely to match that on this turning pitch.
WICKET! Sharjeel Khan (c Pandya, b Raina 17) Pakistan 38-1
You could just feel Sharjeel wanting to start to let loose as Suresh Raina was brought into the attack. He had just dropped one short to Hardik Pandya at mid-on, but this time he didn’t get so lucky, with Pandya charging in from the boundary to make a superb diving catch. And the all-rounder appears to hurt himself making the catch and has gone off the field for treatment.
7th over: Pakistan 34-0 (Sharjeel 16, Shehzad 16)
Dhoni brings on Ravindra Jadeja for another spin option. There’s a brief moment of excitement with a very ambitious appeal for a catch, but the ball clearly came off Sharjeel’s pads. It remains extremely difficult for the batsmen with the ball turning all over the place. It’s similar to the pitch for India’s opening match against New Zealand in Nagpur. Ahmed Shehzad does well to nudge the ball down to the third man boundary to pick up four runs.
6th over: Pakistan 28-0 (Sharjeel 15, Shehzad 12)
You have to credit Pakistan for at least playing the conditions here. They’re not throwing their bat at the ball, instead just trying to survive the difficult conditions and keep wickets in hand to hopefully be able to cut loose and boost the run-rate later on. Four singles off the latest over from Ashwin’s third over.
5th over: Pakistan 24-0 (Sharjeel 13, Shehzad 10)
Jasprit Bumrah comes on to replace Nehra and beats the bat on two occasions while catching Sharjeel with a badly mistimed shot on another. The opener certainly looks rattled, particularly by the pitch, but he manages to cut the ball for four off the final ball to at least keep Pakistan’s streak going of one boundary an over. But that's the powerplay over after just 24 runs.
4th over: Pakistan 19-0 (Sharjeel 9, Shehzad 9)
Ashwin kept the pressure on with some turning deliveries, but Ahmed Shehzad managed to clear the infield with a lofted shot over mid-on to reach the boundary for four. There’s plenty of turn on this pitch, though.
3rd over: Pakistan 12-0 (Sharjeel 8, Shehzad 3)
The first boundary finally arrives for Pakistan, with Sharjeel clipping the ball down the leg side in the air and bouncing for four runs off Nehra’s last ball off the over. With the match reduced to 18 overs, Pakistan will need to get going. It's slow and steady so far as they try to see off the new ball.
2nd over: Pakistan 5-0 (Sharjeel 3, Shehzad 1)
Ravichandran Ashwin is given the new ball by Mahendra Singh Dhoniand the spinner finds some good early grip and turn in the pitch. Just a single and a bye off the over. Pakistan’s openers under early pressure.
1st over: Pakistan 3-0 (Sharjeel 2, Shehzad 1)
Just the three singles off the first over and a brief scare with the last ball as Shehzad blocked the ball in the air, but well short of Nehra. Still, a good first over for the veteran Nehra, who has impressed since his recent return to international cricket.
11:01 a.m. EDT: Ashish Nehra to open the bowling for India to Sharjeel Khan.
10:58 a.m. EDT: The national anthems are now being played and we can finally, an hour later than scheduled, get this eagerly anticipated match underway. Remember because of the rain delay it will be just 18-overs a side.
10:55 a.m. EDT: The World T20 trophy is now being brought out onto the pitch. If India lose today, they can almost certainly forget about hoisting it aloft at the end of the tournament.
10:47 a.m. EDT: Shahid Afridi hints that bowling first was the call he would have made, too, although backs his batting lineup to repeat the success they had against Bangladesh. Pakistan make one change to their lineup, with Mohammad Sami coming in for Imad Wasim.
10:41 a.m. EDT: India have won the toss and elected to bowl first. India will be unchanged from their defeat to New Zealand.
10:30 a.m. EDT: Finally some definite news. The toss will take place at 10:40 a.m. EDT, with the match getting underway 20 minutes later. It will now be 18-overs a side, with a five over powerplay.
10:22 a.m. EDT: John Denver’s “Take Me Home” is the interesting choice of pre-match music at Eden Gardens, as the platform is dismantled and hopefully the toss will soon take place.
10:15 a.m. EDT: The delay is still ongoing, while some India and Pakistan legends, including Sachin Tendulkar and Imran Khan are now being honored out on the field. The hope is that we’ll still get the full 20 overs a side.
9:52 a.m. EDT: The coin toss has been delayed by rain and a thunderstorm at Eden Gardens, although the covers now appear to be coming off so the delay hopefully won’t be too much longer.
Preview: The waiting and the talking are over and on Saturday evening in Kolkata, India and Pakistan will face off at the World Twenty20. Whenever the two sides meet, the discussion always transcends what happens on the cricket field. And it has been no different this time around, with security concerns leading the match to be moved from the original venue of Dharamsala to Kolkata’s Eden Gardens and even threaten Pakistan’s very participation in the event.
Even upon arrival in India there was further controversy, when Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi’s attempts to ingratiate himself to his hosts led to much uproar back home. But Afridi would redeem himself with a match-winning performance as Pakistan started off their World T20 campaign by recording an emphatic victory over Bangladesh on Wednesday. With India suffering an upset loss to New Zealand in the opening match of the Super 10 stage, Saturday’s encounter has a huge amount riding on it, even ignoring the intensity of the rivalry.
With only two teams set to emerge form a five-team group also including Australia, a defeat for India would all but extinguish their hopes. Playing on home soil in front of a demanding cricket-mad public, an early exit would represent nothing short of a disaster for an India team that entered the tournament as red-hot favorites.
Expectations were far less for Pakistan coming into the sixth World Cup in cricket’s Twenty20 format. Afridi’s team had lost seven of their last 11 matches and looked a long way short of the team that reached the finals of the first two World T20s in 2007 and 2009. But victory over Bangladesh, also at Eden Gardens, will provide a major confidence boost as Pakistan look to record their first victory over India in either 50-over or 20-over World Cups.
Check back here from 10 a.m. EDT for live score updates and video highlights from the World T20 group match.