World T20: India see off rivals Pakistan with a showcase of spellbinding spin

A masterclass in spin bowling and a sensational innings from Virat Kohli kept India in the Twenty20 World Cup with their first victory.

World T20: India see off rivals Pakistan with a showcase of spellbinding spin
India were jumping for joy after a crucial victory in their second match (photo: AFP)

You could not have asked for more apt weather conditions than the almighty thunderstorm that engulfed Kolkata, as two teams with one of the greatest rivalries in world sport prepared for battle in front of 61,000 passionate fans.

Indian bowlers squeeze the Pakistan batsmen on a tough wicket

The storm caused the match to be reduced to 18 overs aside as India, under pressure after their defeat to New Zealand, won the toss and put Pakistan into bat.

Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad realised the importance of not playing the occasion and gradually began a steady partnership, against a dangerous Indian spin attack. Yet their hard work was short lived as Suresh Raina broke the deadlock with a helping hand from Hardik Pandya, who took a fantastic diving catch to dismiss Sharjeel for 17 in the eighth over.

Shahid Afridi came to the crease with Pakistan struggling to find the boundary, as Ravi Ashwin, Rabindra Jadeja and Raina continued to turn the ball all over the pitch. Yet it was the pace bowling of Jasprit Bumrah that saw off Shehzad, as a sliced shot saw Jadeja pocket him for 25 and Pakistan toiling on 51-2 after ten overs.

Umar Akmal came in at number four in a partnership that was not likely to spend too much time playing themselves in. Unfortunately for the visitors, they did not spend too much time together full stop, as Afridi found Virat Kohli off the bowling of Pandya, after scoring just eight runs.

Pakistan were desperate for a spell of luck and they got some good fortune when a run out attempt deflected off the stumps for an extra four runs. That set Shoaib Malik and Akmal on their way, as the former eventually hit the first six of the innings in the fourteenth over off Pandya, before Akmal followed it up with another just two balls later.

That over went for 15, before the next over bowled by Bumrah was dispatched for 13, as Malik and Akmal began to claw their country towards a respectable total. Captain MS Dhoni returned to his trusty spin options and Jadeja duly broke a potentially dangerous partnership on 41. Akmal went for a sweep but could only edge it behind to Dhoni as he departed for a swift 22.

With two overs left, Malik seemed to be the man who would be tasked with helping Pakistan to a competitive total. Unfortunately the big hitter only lasted another two balls, as his slog sweep ballooned up in the air straight to Ashwin off the bowling of Ashish Nehra, causing Malik to walk back for 26. Bumrah was the man entrusted with bowling the final over and a range of slower balls and yorkers restricted Pakistan to seven off the final over, as the visitors edged to 118-5 off their 20 overs.

Singh and Kohli see of a spirited Pakistan bowling attack

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan would have been assessing the Pakistan innings closely before they came out to bat on a tricky surface. The pair looked to try and set themselves, as Sharma slashed away two boundaries. Yet the opener had barely touched double figures before Mohammad Amir tempted him into a mishit stroke that landed gratefully in Shoaib Malik's hands.

Dhawan managed to cut Mohammad Sami for four, before the bowler then got his revenge as Dhawan edged the ball onto his stumps for just six. Sami had his tail up and instantly dismissed Suresh Raina for a golden duck, as he also played onto his stumps, leaving India with a wealth of problems at 23-3 off five overs.

Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli were the men the Indians were now pinning their hopes on, as the pair attempted a rebuilding process. The pair mixed aggression and patience as they put on an excellent stand of 61 to not only save India, but put them well and truly in the driving seat. Yuvraj was the man out as he lofted a Wahab Riaz delivery straight to Sami for 24. However, the partnership had left India requiring just a run a ball for the last five overs.

Captain Dhoni came to the crease but he was just the supporting act as Kohli brought up a sensational match winning 50 off just 34 balls, incredible considering the pitch conditions. The pair went through the motions as they crossed the finish line with 13 balls and six wickets to spare in a crucial victory. Kohli finished with 55 from 37.

Kohli raises his bat after bringing up 50 (photo: Getty Images)
Kohli raises his bat after bringing up 50 (photo: Getty Images)