World T20: Virat Kohli steadies India’s nerves after early collapse against Pakistan

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The Independent Online

Virat Kohli struck an unbeaten half-century as India thoroughly relished their six-wicket victory over Pakistan to keep their hopes alive in the World Twenty20 and maintain a perfect record against their arch rivals. 

India have won all six matches they have played against Pakistan India in the 50-over World Cup and all five meetings in this tournament. This result will rank among the most important given that they faced elimination as hosts following their defeat to New Zealand in the first game in Group Two. 

The atmosphere in this venerable Calcutta stadium holding 66,000 vociferous supporters was febrile and passionate in the extreme. Victory was nothing short of essential 

Kohli hit seven fours and a six on a testing pitch as India reached their target with 13 balls to spare in a game reduced to 18 overs per side after a an hour’s delay at the start due to a wet outfield. 

But the ease of the margin of victory could not disguise the tension inside the ground, which was exacerbated by a nervous start to the home side’s reply. 

The profile of this fixture had already by heightened when it was moved from the hill city of Dharamsala owing to Pakistan’s security concerns. 

After an early collapse in which India lost three wickets for 23, Kohli added 61 with Yuvraj Singh and then saw his team through to the finish line with his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. 

“My heart rate did shoot up after losing those quick wickets,” Kohli said. “One has to bat according to the demands of the situation at times. It was a challenging wicket but that’s what you want as a cricketer, new challenges.” 

The early damage had been wreaked by the Pakistan pacemen, notably Mohammad Sami, who justified his inclusion at the cost of spinner Imad Wasim on a pitch that was turning square.Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina were bowled off successive deliveries, both playeding on. 

“The pitch became better later,” Dhoni said. “Initially when we saw the pitch we did not think it would turn so much.”