DHAKA, Feb 27, (AFP): India overcame a fiery opening spell from Pakistan bowler Mohammad Amir to pummel their bitter rivals by five wickets in a key Asia Cup Twenty20 match in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Saturday. Defending a low score of 83 runs, Amir generated sheer pace and swing with pinpoint accuracy on a helpful track at the Sher-e-Banga National Stadium to leave India rattled at 8-3 inside three overs.
Both India’s openers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane went for a duck and Suresh Raina could help himself only hoisting a catch at mid-off to Wahab Riaz after making one. Virat Kohli struck Amir, who bowled four overs at a stretch to finish with 3-18, for two fours in his final over to restore some confidence.
Kohli then hit Mohammad Irfan for another four in the next over before giving Riaz the same treatment twice in the space of three balls to put India firmly in control. India fi nally reached 85-5 to complete the victory with 27 balls to spare with man of the match Kohli making 49, the top score, off 51 balls with seven fours. Mohammad Sami trapped Kohli leg before to deny him his fourth fi fty in fi ve Twenty20 internationals.
The pacer removed Hardik Pandya for a duck but the effort was too little too late. Yuvraj Singh survived a barrage of short balls to give Kohli an invaluable support in their match-winning 68-run fourth wicket partnership.
The experienced campaigner remained 14 not out facing 32 balls. “We are a team that loves to play aggressive cricket. But this pushes us to respect the conditions, which will be good going into the World Twenty20,” said India skipper MS Dhoni. “I’m glad we restricted them to (83) runs, .. and the game was on.” Man of the match Kohli hailed Amir for his brilliant efforts. “I would like to congratulate Mohammad Amir for the way he bowled,” Kohli said. “I actually congratulated him while he was bowling. It was amazing to play such a spell.”
Pakistan would have had to create a new record if they were to defend their score, as the lowest total successfully defended in a Twenty20 international is 96. Earlier, Indian medium pacers came up with some tight and aggressive bowling as they made regular breakthroughs to put the side in the driving seat. Pandya returned with a career best 3-8 but Jasprit Bumrah and Ashish Nehra, who claimed one wicket apiece giving away eight and 20 runs respectively, were equally impressive.
Two runouts also hurt Pakistan, who were reduced to 45-6 before they made some resistance through wicketkeeperbatsman Sarfraz Ahmed. He made 25 runs, the team’s best, for Pakistan while Khurram Manzoor (10) was the only other batsman to reach double fi gure. Left arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja bowled Sarfraz as he fi nished with 2-11.
Pandya took two wickets in his fi nal over to humiliate Pakistan to their lowest score against India in the seven Twenty20 internationals they have played so far. Pakistan’s previous lowest total against their traditional rivals was 128. Captain Shahid Afridi rued his batsmen’s failure to read the wicket.