Pakistani female squad’s narrow victory over archrival India failed to inspire the men’s cricket team, which once again faltered against MS Dhoni’s side in the World T20 clash in Kolkata.
The women’s team had shown the way to their male counterparts by defeating India by two runs in a rain-hit match in New Delhi on Saturday. Later in the night, however, skipper Shahid Afridi failed to inspire the Greenshirts against the Men in Blue.
Virat Kohli helped India pip Pakistan by six wickets at Kolkata’s jam-packed Eden Gardens. Kohli struck an unbeaten 55 as India comfortably chased down Pakistan’s total of 118-5, reaching their target with 13 balls remaining in a match reduced to 18 overs per side because of rain.
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In New Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, the Sana Mir-led Pakistan’s women squad had reached 77 for six in 16 overs in reply to India’s modest total of 96-7 in their 20 overs.
The second innings was brought to a halt by a heavy downpour which forced the umpires to abandon the game. Pakistan was named the winner under the Duckworth-Lewis method, much to the delight of Sana.
“We have won games by a run, and lost games by a couple of runs, so as a unit we take a lot of pride in our fielding and bowling and this is the way forward,” she said in the post-match ceremony. “It’s really good for us to get these pressure games early in the tournament. A very important win for us.”
The victory came just ahead of the high-voltage clash between the men’s teams in Kolkata, which drew hundreds of millions of television viewers.
Put in to bat on a moisture-laden Eden Gardens pitch, openers Sharjeel Khan (17) and Ahmed Shehzad (25) played cautiously at first and then lost their wickets as they tried to accelerate.
Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Suresh Raina looked dangerous in their opening spells on a track that provided turn and bounce, but the Pakistan batsmen did well to show patience.
Fresh from his match-winning exploits against Bangladesh, skipper Shahid Afridi (8) promoted himself to number three but the boom was missing from his shots this time around. The hard-hitting batsman could only find a single boundary in his scratchy 14-ball stay as he walked back amid loud cheers from the capacity crowd.
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Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik then stitched together a crucial 41-run stand that helped Pakistan put up what seemed a respectable score on board on a tricky wicket.
Akmal (22), whose 16-ball knock was studded with a boundary and a six, was caught behind off Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm spin. Top-scorer Malik (26), who hit three boundaries and a six in his 26-run innings, soon joined Akmal in the dug-out after trying to force Ashish Nehra’s pace.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez finished off the innings as Pakistan got seven off the last over, but with the pitch playing tricks it still remained anybody’s game.
But cool-headed Kohli guided India to a comfortable victory, putting back his team’s campaign on track after suffering a shock loss against New Zealand in the tournament opener.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2016.
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