World Twenty20: Virat Kohli blast keeps India in the hunt as Pakistan falter

Pakistan 128 India 129-2

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The Independent Online

Virat Kohli hit two sixes and eight fours in a career-best 78 not out to guide India to a crushing eight-wicket victory over Pakistan in the Super Eights.

It was Kohli's best score in Twenty20 internationals, surpassing the 70 he scored against New Zealand just before this tournament. Earlier, Indian spinners Yuvraj Singh and Ravichandran Ashwin bagged two wickets each to dismiss Pakistan for 128 inside 20 overs. India chased the meagre total with 18 balls to spare at R Premadasa Stadium.

With the win, India have kept their semi-final hopes alive following the crushing defeat by Australia in their first Super Eights match.

"Today's performance was a really good one because the part-timers contributed, the spinners bowled well and also the fast bowlers," said captain MS Dhoni. "The first two overs we gave away a few runs. But after that I felt we were quite consistent."

Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez said his team's batting failure and Kohli's performance with the bat cost his team.

"We really wanted to win the game," Hafeez said. "But unfortunately we were losing wickets on a regular basis. We couldn't come back in the first 10 overs. We couldn't set the total we really wanted."

After losing Gautam Gambhir on the second ball of the innings, caught and bowled by left-arm spinner Raza Hasan, Kohli and Virender Sehwag (29) combined for a 74-run stand off 61 balls that virtually sealed the match for India.

Pakistan made a promising batting start after winning the toss but India's bowlers came back strongly, picking up wickets regularly. Left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan trapped Imran Nazir lbw in the second over with the total on 17 to provide India with their first breakthrough.

Shahid Afridi, promoted in the batting order to No 3 with the aim of increasing the scoring rate, made 14 off 12 deliveries before being caught in the deep by Suresh Raina off seam bowler Lakshmipathy Balaji. Yuvraj had both Nasir Jamshed and Kamran Akmal caught behind by Dhoni. Pakistan were soon reduced to 59-5, losing four wickets for 24 runs before Shoaib Malik (28) and Umar Akmal (21) brought some respite with a sixth-wicket stand of 47.

Ashwin entered the fray when the pair looked set for a longer stay, having Malik caught at short mid-wicket before Akmal was out caught in the deep by Raina when trying to increase the scoring rate. Both Ashwin and Yuvraj returned 2-16, while Balaji had the best bowling figures of 3-22 as he polished off the tail.