Virat Kohli: Pakistan bowlers didn’t allow us to get extra runs
India started on a shaky note as Rohit Sharma was dismissed for a golden duck and KL Rahul was soon back in the pavilion as well after scoring 3 runs off 8 balls. Suryakumar Yadav got a good start but he perished after contributing 11 runs off 8 balls.
A 53-run partnership between skipper Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant helped the Indian team rebuild their innings and finish with 151 runs on the scoreboard as Kohli scored a magnificent half-century in India’s official tournament opener.
Shaheen Afridi starred with the ball in hand as he removed Sharma, Rahul, and Kohli from the crease with Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf, Imad Wasim, and Mohammad Hafeez bowling economically throughout the match.
Chasing a tricky target of 152 runs, Pakistan’s opening batsmen Mohammad Rizwan and skipper Babar Azam never looked in doubt as their twin half-centuries helped their nation win their first-ever World Cup match against India.
Mohammed Shami proved to be too expensive with the ball in hand as Varun Chakravarthy and Bhuvneshwar Kumar leaked considerable runs as well on the night. Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, or Rahul Chahar could feature in India’s next match against New Zealand as a few changes won’t come as a surprise to the Indian cricket fans.
It was the first occasion in T20I history that India has lost a match by 10 wickets which was made possible by Pakistan’s highest ever partnership against India in the format breaking the record of 106 put on by Hafeez and Shoaib Malik in 2012.
At the post-match presentation, ‘Man of the Match’ Afridi explained his mindset during the first spell and praised the batsmen for getting the job done in a professional manner.
“It is the good wishes of my parents and all Pakistanis. Very happy with my performance. The plan was to bring the ball back in. I was just trying to swing it and I was just looking to give the team a breakthrough. That was what I practiced in the nets as well yesterday. Batting against the new ball was tough, the credit goes to Babar and Rizwan for the way they played. All teams are good in the tournament and we will look to carry this momentum through and go to the finals.”
Losing skipper Kohli discussed what went wrong for the Indian team on the night and how important it is to get wickets in the powerplay overs in Dubai.
“We didn’t execute properly. Credit where it’s due and Pakistan outplayed us today. They started brilliantly with the ball, and 3 wickets for 20 runs was not a good start. We needed wickets early but with the bat, they gave us absolutely no chances. It played slow in the first half and hitting through the line was not that easy as it was in the second half, after 10 overs. We needed those 15-20 extra runs and for that, we needed a good start but Pakistan’s bowling didn’t allow us to get those extra runs.”
The 32-year old must have heard the noise around leaving Ravichandran Ashwin and Rahul Chahar out of the playing XI but defended his decision of playing three fast bowlers on a two-paced Dubai surface.
“We could make the argument of getting in another slower bowler, but it’s important to stay composed and understand our strengths because with the dew the slower bowlers couldn’t be effective either. This is just the first game of the tournament, not the last.”
Winning skipper Azam was delighted with the team’s performance on the big night as they achieved a historical feat that will be talked about for the coming years.
“This was the team’s effort, and the early wickets were very helpful. It gave us a lot of confidence and our spinners were very good as well. We applied our plans and got the results. We, the openers, kept it simple and built a partnership and because the wicket was getting better, we just wanted to keep batting till the end, which we did.”
The 27-year old top-order batsman also talked about the coming challenges in the tournament and how forgetting history was a big factor in defeating India for the first time in an ICC World Cup match.
“It won’t get easier just because we beat India. We will take the confidence, but we’re taking it one match at a time, and there’s a long way to go in the tournament. We prepared well, and just kept the history out of our minds. We needed quality practice, and warm-up matches, and even our domestic tournament and those games gave us a lot of confidence.”