By VINODE MAMCHAN
Sunday evening around 3pm security forces had already gathered at the home of Indian captain Virat Kohli in Gurgaon, Mumbai because the war was about to start with Pakistan 931 miles away in the Gulf State of Dubai.
However, three and half hours later Pakistanis were shouting Ya Salam! Ya Salam! As Pakistan romped to victory in their opening match of the ICC World T20 at the Dubai International Stadium at Dubai Sports City. It had to end and Pakistan finally won a World Cup match, whether it be 50 overs or 20 overs against India.
The spunk of Mahammad Rizwan the little wicketkeeper/batsman and the calming assurance of skipper Babar Azam dealt the Indians a blow that they will not forget in a hurry. Pakistan reached 152 without loss in 17.5 overs. It represented the first time that Pakistan won a T20 match by 10 wickets. Azam finished 68 not out off 52 balls with two sixes and six fours. Mohammad ended on 79 off 55 balls with three sixes and six fours.
After their bowlers restricted the Indians to 151/7 off 20 overs on being sent in, the Pakistanis made light work of the target as the pair who sits on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to energy combined beautiful. Rizwan was rowdy, while Babar was calculated and this pairing was too much for their Eastern neighbours who started as favourites.
India threw everything at them but there were no Pakistani casualties in this war. The openers closed the borders and the Indians could not penetrate.
Earlier, Pakistan made inroads but Kohli played situational cricket to get them back on the path. The Pakistanis were in their element from the very first over as the dangerous Rohit Sharma fell to the youthful sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi. The big-left hander, who is soon due to get married to the daughter of former Pakistani legend Shahid Afridi, brought one back to trap his adjacent.
Two overs after Karachi would have erupted as he got another to nip back only for KL Rahul to hear the dreaded sound of timber. Surya Kumar Yadav played positively but fell soon after and India at the end of the Power Play reached 36/3. Kohli meanwhile was watching all this from the other end and was able to build partnerships with firstly Rishab Pant who counted a valuable 39 and then Ravindra Jadeja that took India over the 100-run mark.
Kohli gave Afridi his third wicket finally falling in the 19th over for 57 off 49 balls with a six, and five fours. Towards the end Abdul Rauf used the slow balls to good effect and India was restricted to 151/7. Afridi went for 10 runs off his final ball which included a no-ball that he had to bowl again and then four over-throws.