Captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan smashed unbeaten half-centuries as Pakistan crushed India by 10 wickets on Monday morning (AEDT) to register their first win over their arch rivals in a Twenty20 World Cup.
Chasing 152 for victory, Babar (68) and Rizwan (79) took apart the Indian bowling as they steered their team home with 13 balls to spare in Dubai.
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Left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi set up victory — their first over their neighbours in six attempts in the tournament — with figures of 3-31 that restricted India to 7-151 despite a valiant 57 from skipper Virat Kohli.
“This is the first time we’ve beaten India and I feel proud,” said Afridi. “I knew it would be good for us if I got early wickets and that worked out. My idea was to get as much swing as possible.
“You don’t get a lot here, but I wanted to get those breakthroughs and gave it 100 per cent. In my opinion the new ball was difficult to play, so credit goes to Babar and Rizwan.”
In the immediate aftermath of the victory, celebratory gunfire erupted in the Pakistani cities of Islamabad and Karachi.
Kohli was praised for being gracious in defeat. He was all class as he smiled and congratulated Azam, and gave Rizwan a hug.
Respected Indian broadcaster Harsha Bhogle tweeted: “Really loved the scenes at the end between Virat and Rizwan and Babar and thereafter between some of the younger Pakistan players and Dhoni. Beyond the hype and posturing, this is the true story of sport.”
Commentator and cricket writer Isabelle Westbury praised how “magnanimous” both sides were to each other, adding: “Virat Kohli, incidentally, deserves special mention. Quite the generous post-match speech, especially considering his own individual performance when all around him was falling apart.”
Babar and Rizwan went on the attack from the start with boundaries inside the powerplay — the first six overs when only two fielders are allowed outside the inner circle — to set the tone for their chase.
The dew did not help the Indian bowlers who regularly wiped the moisture off the ball with their towels while the openers kept the score ticking.
The batting pair kept up the charge as Babar reached his fifty with a six off spinner Varun Chakravarthy to get the Pakistan supporters dancing with joy.
Rizwan raised his fifty with a boundary off fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and then raced past his captain, hitting six fours and three sixes in his 55-ball knock.
Babar hit the winning runs to turn a new page in Pakistan-India rivalry.
“We did not execute the things that we wanted to but credit is certainly due — they outplayed us today,” admitted Kohli.
“They were very professional with the bat as well but we’re certainly not a team that presses the panic button, it’s the start of the tournament, not the end.”
Speaking about Afridi’s opening spell, Kohli added: “In T20 cricket you need good execution to pick up wickets with the new ball and certainly he did that.
“So credit to him. He put our batsmen under pressure immediately with the new ball and ran in with intensity.
“Twenty-25 (more) runs would have been good but brilliant bowling in the first six (overs) did not allow us to get those runs.”
Kohli scored his 29th T20 fifty to help his team rebuild before being caught behind off Afridi as Pakistan dismissed the star batsman for the first time in a T20 World Cup game.
Afridi struck the first blow with an express delivery that swung in to trap Rohit Sharma LBW for a first ball duck.
Kohli walked in amid raucous applause from the Indian fans who were soon silenced by another ripper from Afridi in his second over. He got KL Rahul with a delivery that came in sharply to take the batsman’s thigh pad and rattle the stumps.
Kohli and new batter Suryakumar Yadav attempted to hit back with some positive shots as they smashed Afridi for a six each.
Wicketkeeper Rizwan then pulled off a superb diving catch to cut short Yadav’s stay at the wicket for 11 with quick bowler Hasan Ali striking in his first over.
Rishabh Pant joined Kohli in the middle and the pair rebuilt the innings and took India to 3-60 at the end of 10 overs.
Pant survived a close caught behind call off one of his attempted reverse sweeps and kept up the charge with adventurous strokeplay. He hit Ali for two successive sixes but finally fell to Shadab Khan’s leg spin in the next over, top-edging a ball that went high and into the hands of the bowler.
Pant made 39 off 30 balls. Kohli stood firm to soak up the pressure to get to his 50 in 45 balls.