MS Dhoni with Virat Kohli finished off the game in his usual style, knocking balls around and eventually clearing the fence as if all this had been preordained.
Kolkata: Finally, it happened. After much political wrangling and uncertainty, the India-Pakistan ICC World Twenty20 encounter took place with fanfare and enthusiasm on Saturday.
The result was along expected lines: India beat Pakistan at a world event one more time.
But it was not always clear that India would keep their winning streak intact. Rain had fallen, the match had been reduced to 18 overs. The wicket was treacherous once again, the same as it had been when India had been crushed by New Zealand. Pakistan had been asked to bat first, and the ball was turning, spitting, ripping from the first over. It was not just R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja who relished the wicket. The faster bowlers discovered uneven bounce and swing.
But the continuous fall of wickets in the first half of the Pakistan innings was offset by some gutsy batting that saw several mishits making it to the fence. Then, in the final few overs, the Pakistani batsmen accelerated. Shoaib Malik hit a few lusty blows and the total was suddenly 118.
India once again didn’t begin well, though Rohit Sharma intended to. He fell to Mohammad Amir for the second time. Then Mohammad Sami destroyed the stumps of Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, and suddenly the batting began to look brittle like against New Zealand.
Class though, always makes a difference irrespective of format. Not for nothing is Virat Kohli regarded as the heir to Sachin Tendulkar. With Yuvraj Singh, he added 61 for the fourth wicket – first in singles and twos, then in boundaries. He brought the symphony to a climax with a glimpse of the unforgettable – THAT mark of respect to Sachin on reaching his fifty.
People might point out that Yuvraj again fell without playing a defining innings (he made 24). But on the Eden Gardens minefield and given the match situation, Yuvi’s innings was a gem.
After Yuvraj’s dismissal, MS Dhoni finished off the game in his usual style, knocking balls around and eventually clearing the fence as if all this had been preordained.
In hindsight Team India always had the ammunition to chase 118. A few lessons were learnt from the New Zealand game, Virat Kohli showed why he belongs at a different level, the patriots chanted ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, Amitabh Bachchan sang the national anthem, nobody observed Earth Hour and there was much revelry in the streets. All was right in the world again.