Defending champions, India kicked-off their ICC World Cup 2015 campaign with a 76-run win over arch rivals Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval. Virat Kohli’s (107) century stands with Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina helped India to 300 despite a collapse in the death overs after opting to bat.
Back at No 3, Virat was involved in 129 and 110-run stands with Dhawan and Raina respectively to set the stage for a formidable total on a batting friendly track. The Mohammed Shami-led attack then kept the opposition in check. Complemented by excellent fielding, they kept up the pressure even as Misbah-ul-Haq (76) put up a lone fight. Striking at crucial junctures they kept partnerships from building and bowled Pakistan out for 224.
Earlier, with Mohammed Irfan and Sohail Khan hurling at the batsman, Rohit Sharma and Dhawan had put together 34 runs until the former was sent back. Rohit top-edged Sohail Khan and Misbah took the catch running in from mid-off.
With Kohli, Dhawan then worked the ball around to pick singles to built a stand and lay a foundation for a formidable total. On the batting friendly wicket the duo played watchfully and ran hard between the wickets to shape the partnership.
Having bided his time at the crease, Kohli too began to find the boundary with ease as the partnership began to blossom. He drove and whipped the bowlers to seize the momentum. He struck leg-spinner Yasir Shah through cover and past point to enter the forties.
At the other end, the opener, who hadn’t been amongst runs in Australia brought up his fifty with a single off Raiz and the No. 3 soon followed him to the mark. Adding to the total at a steady pace, they built partnership until a direct hit by Ahmed Shehzad ran Dhawan out at the non-striker’s end after being sent back by Kohli.
An over later, India would have lost Kohli too had Umar Akmal caught the simple catch after the batsman had edged Haris Sohail. Virat was on 76 when he was let off by the wicketkeeper.
Raina and Kohli then plundered runs off the Pakistan attack. While Kohli held up one end the left-hand bat bludgeoned the bowlers at will. He collected a six off Haris Sohail as Shah got his fingers to the ball before it crossed the deep midwicket boundary. The Indian batsmen milked the bowlers and tightened their grip on the innings.
But Pakistan pegged the run-rate back in the batting powerplay. Riaz and Irfan conceded only two boundaries in the five-over duration as they conceded 25 runs off it. While Riana struck Riaz over mid-on, Kohli dabbed Irfan down leg side for four in the powerplay.
As the Indians looked to unleash them themselves in the last ten overs, Raina hit Shah, with the turn over mid-wicket for six to enter the forties. In the following over Kohli reached his hundred while Raina brought up his fifty.
With a run off Afridi to long-on, Kohli became the first Indian to score a hundred in a World Cup match against Pakistan. Raina then swept the senior spinner over the ropes for six and reached his fifty with a single off the next ball.
Raina was on song as he milked the Pakistan attack. He collected 14 of Sohail Khan who was the pick of the opposition’s attack. He followed up two dot balls with three boundaries - over short fine leg, mid-off and a top-edge as he dominated the bowling.
Sohail Khan struck to dismiss Kohli and end the flourishing stand and got his team back in to the game. He took the edge off the centurion’s bat through to the keeper. With less than five overs left in the innings MS Dhoni came to crease as India looked to make the most of the death overs. But in his next over Sohail Khan got Raina caught at deep mid-wicket for 74.
It went downhill for India from there on as wickets fell in a flurry. In the next over, Ravindra Jadeja who was sent ahead of Ajinkya Rahane survived being run out and so did the India captain as Pakistan fielders missed the stumps. But after being beaten by the bowler’s pace, Jadeja lost his off-stump to Riaz in the penultimate over.
Sohail Khan then claimed two off the next two balls. Beaten by the short ball, Dhoni departed pulling it to mid-off. And the pacer dislodged the bail over middle and leg-stump to dismiss Rahane as the batsman made room to go for the big hit. However, Mohammed Shami survived the yorker to deny the bowler his hat-trick. The lower-order bat then picked two to point off the last ball to set Pakistan a 301-run target.
Defending the total, Shami had Younis Khan caught behind the wicket to give India their first breakthrough in the fourth over. But Haris Sohail, who then came to crease, hit Umesh Yadav for three boundaries in the next to pick 14 runs from the over. He survived being run out in the next and then worked to forge a partnership with Shehzad.
The pair bided their time at the crease as they looked to set-up the chase for the side. But with 79 on the board, Raina pulled off a superb catch at first slip to send back Haris Sohail off Ravichandran Ashwin.
The Pakistan skipper then joined the opener in the middle but Umesh Yadav brought back in to the attack claimed two in his second over of the spell to push the opposition on the backfoot. The opener whacked hard at the Yadav delivery only to find Jadeja who collected the catch at the second attempt. And a ball later, Shoaib Maqsood nicked the ball to Raina in the slips to return for naught.
In the following over, Akmal edged the ball to Dhoni and the decision review saw the batsman return for zero. Having claimed three wickets in a span of nine deliveries for one run India were in a commanding position.
With his side floundering, Afridi joined Misbah in the middle in an effort to salvage the innings. However, Dhoni rotated his bowling options to keep the opposition on a leash.
With runs at a premium, Pakistan took the batting powerplay in the 33rd over with the side on 137/5. Dhoni then re-introduced Shami, who varied his line and length to keep a lid on the runs. And while Yadav was creamed by Misbah, Shami followed up with a double blow in his next. A brilliant catch by Kohli sent back Afridi while Riaz edged the pacer to Dhoni to leave his side on 157/7.
However, with little support from the opposite end Misbah batted valiantly. 49 runs later he lost Shah to Mohit. And couple of overs later, the Pakistan captain departed hitting Shami to mid-on. Mohit then wrapped-up the game with the wicket of Sohail Khan.
India 300/7 in 50 overs (V Kohli 107, S Raina 74, S Dhawan 73, 5/55 Sohail Khan) beat Pakistan 224 all out in 47 overs (Misbah-ul Haq 76, A Shehzad 47, M Shami 4/35, U Yadav 2/50) by 76 runs
Man of the match: Virat Kohli for his century that set up the match for India