MIRPUR, Feb 27: India rode on a strong bowling performance to defeat archrivals Pakistan by five wickets in their Twenty20 International clash of the Asia Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here on Saturday evening.
Both teams struggled to bat on a greenish wicket with uneven bounce. The Indian bowlers justified their captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni�s decision to field first by bundling out Pakistan for a mere 83 runs in 17.3 overs. This was the third lowest total by Pakistan in T20 cricket.
The Indian batsmen then braved some excellent bowling by the Pakistan pacers to overhaul the target in 15.3 overs. Virat Kohli top-scored for India with 49. The Delhi lad put on a 68-run stand with Yuvraj Singh (14 not out) to take the match away from Pakistan.
Kohli, who was adjudged the man of the match, was unlucky to given leg before just one run short of his half-century off the bowling of Mohammad Sami. Television replays later showed that the ball had taken the edge of the bat before hitting the pad.
Amir had figures of 3/18 while Mohammad Sami (2/16) got two wickets. Mohammad Irfan (0/16) also bowled well although he did not manage to get a wicket.
Defending a measly total, the Pakistan fast bowlers showed their true pedigree with a brave effort. Amir gave Pakistan a glimmer of hope, striking early blows for Pakistan. He removed Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane in the opening over before either batsman had opened their respective accounts.
But if the sizeable Pakistan contingent among the spectators nurtured any hopes of a strong comeback, they were quickly dashed as Kohli and Yuvraj took charge. The duo were regularly beaten by the movement and variable bounce, but survived some close calls to take India slowly but surely towards victory.
Earlier, Pandya bagged a three-wicket haul as India bundled out Pakistan for a meagre total. Pandya returned figures of 3/8, while fellow pacers Ashish Nehra (1/20) and Jasprit Bumrah (1/8) also made good use of the uneven bounce on a greenish wicket. Ravindra Jadeja (2/11) also bowled well.
Sarfraz Ahmad was the top scorer for Pakistan with 25. Only two other batsmen managed to post double figures. The Pakistani batsmen compounded their own misery by some poor shot selection and shoddy running between the wickets which led to a couple of run outs.
The Indian pace duo of the experienced Nehra and talented youngster Bumrah bowled a superb opening spell. They bowled with pace and swing, helped by the uneven bounce.
Pakistan suffered an early blow when Nehra struck in the very first over. Opener Mohammad Hafeez was outfoxed by the variable bounce when he misjudged the height of an incoming delivery.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez c Dhoni b Nehra 4, Sharjeel Khan c Rahane b Bumrah 7, Khurram Manzoor run out 10, Shoaib Malik c Dhoni b Pandya 4, Umar Akmal lbw b Y Singh 3, Sarfraz Ahmed b Jadeja 25, Shahid Afridi run out 2, Wahab Riaz lbw b Jadeja 4, Mohammad Sami c Raina b Pandya 8, Mohammad Amir b Pandya 1, Mohammad Irfan not out 0; Extras (lb 4, w 11) 15. Total (all out in 17.3 overs) 83. Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-22, 3-32, 4-35, 5-35, 6-42, 7-52, 8-70, 9-83. Bowling: A Nehra 3-0-20-1, J Bumrah 3-2-8-1, H Pandya 3.3-0-8-3, Yuvraj Singh 2-0-11-1, R Jadeja 3-0-11-2, R Ashwin 3-0-21-0.
India: Rohit Sharma lbw b Mohammad Amir 0, Ajinkya Rahane lbw b Mohammad Amir 0, Virat Kohli lbw b Mohammad Sami 49, Suresh Rainav c Wahab Riaz b Mohammad Amir 1, Yuvraj Singh not out 14, Hardik Pandya c Mohammad Hafeez b Mohammad Sami 0, Mahendra Singh Dhoni not out 7. Extras (b 1, lb 3, w 8, nb 2) 14. Total (for five wickets in 15.3 overs) 85. Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-2, 3-8, 4-76, 5-76. Bowling: Mohammad Amir 4-0-18-3, Mohammad Sami 4-0-16-2, Mohammad Irfan 4-0-16-0, Wahab Riaz 3.3-0-31-0. � Agencies