India lose to Pak for first time in World Cup

PTI | Dubai

A supremely stylish Babar Azam broke a 29-year-old jinx by guiding Pakistan to an emphatic 10-wicket victory over India in the ICC T20 World Cup here on Sunday, their first in 13 attempts against the bitter arch-rivals at a global event. The law of averages had to catch up with India sooner or later after having won seven ODI and five T20 World Cup games since they first met at Sydney in 1992.

It was also a day when Virat Kohli scored a half-century but was pale in comparison of Babar (68 not out off 52 balls), who looked regal in attack, elegant in defence and composed in a chase of 152, which was achieved in 17.5 overs. Worse, India haven’t ever lost a T20 International by 10 wickets and Pakistan won by such a margin for the first time, and what an occasion to achieve the feat.

Babar had the exuberance of Mohammed Rizwan (79 not out off 55 balls) to match his cool quotient as Pakistan, not for once during the entire match, looked like imploding. In between them, they hit 12 boundaries and five sixes to make it a ‘Super Sunday’ for Pakistan.

On the day, there was only one team that could have won and that was Pakistan, who were better on a man-to-man comparison with each Indian player.

It started with the captains. On a track where Kohli struggled, Babar just effortlessly found the gaps and when required, hit those sixes as release shots.  If India lost three wickets in power play, Pakistan literally humiliated their rivals with an opening stand, which will be billed as one of the best in this format for years to come. If Shaheen Shah Afridi was a rockstar with his searing pace and incisive swing, his new-ball counterpart Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled at early to mid 120 kmph with no swing at all.

If Pakistan’s spin troika of left-armer Imad Wasim (0/10 in 2 overs), leg-spinner Shadab Khan (1/25 in 4 overs) and off-spinner Mohammed Hafeez (0/10 in 2 overs) gave only 47 runs in their eight overs together, Varun Chakravarthy (0/33 in 4 overs) didn’t have any ‘mystery’ about him as he and Ravindra Jadeja (0/28 in 4 overs) gave away 61 runs.

If there was one team that felt the pressure it was India as Babar seemed like a man who was sitting in that Indian dressing room that had no control over the proceedings.

In the chase, Pakistan looked in complete control and Bhuvneshwar’s lack of pace and non-existent swing made it easy for Rizwan to effortlessly cart him over square leg for a six. Skipper Babar was also elegant as he punched Mohammed Shami off the back-foot and rocked back to pull Jadeja over deep mid-wicket for a six.

The 50 came in the 8th over and before India realised, the duo had taken the game away by posting the highest ever opening stand against India in T20 internationals.

When India batted, Kohli got support from Rishabh Pant (39 off 30 balls) during a 53-run stand but had to do the bulk of heavy lifting in a pressure cooker scenario, something he has been accustomed to for the past one decade.

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