Cricket World Cup T20: All Out War In Warm-Up Match As Pakistan Thump India!
|Match winning 92 by Kamran Akmal|
As anticipated an all out war broke out at the warm-up T20 cricket match between India and Pakistan in Colombo today in the run-up to the ICC World Cup T20 tournament starting tomorrow. In line with the epic cricket wars between the archrivals even this insignificant practice match whipped up passion and tension in cricket lovers. Amidst ups and downs finally Pakistan emerged triumphant beating India by five wickets with nearly an over to spare.
India elected to bat winning the toss and lost Gambhir early. Sehwag too could not get going after a good start and it was the ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year Virat Kohli again who took command. With Rohit Sharma Virat crafted a partnership of 127 runs to take the total score to 185/3 and set a challenging target of 186 runs for Pakistan. Virat remained unbeaten on 75 off only 47 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes. As in the practice match against Sri Lanka that India won comfortably Rohit came good here too scoring 56 runs off 40 balls with 6 fours and 2 sixes. Except for Saeed Ajmal Pakistan bowlers failed to rein in the Indian batsmen.
Pakistan started well, but the same old story of unpredictability almost repeated itself with the team reduced to 91/5 in the 12th over thanks only to terrific bowling by R Ashwin who finished with an incredible figure of 4 wickets for 23 runs in 4 overs. At that stage Pakistan needed 86 runs in 51 balls and India had the best chance to force a win. But keeper Kamran Akmal had better ideas as he tore the Indian bowlers apart and raced to an unbeaten 92 superlative runs off only 50 balls with 5 fours and 6 huge sixes. With an equally belligerent former Pak captain Shoaib Malik (quick fire 37 off 18) Akmal led his team to victory not losing any more wicket with 5 balls to spare. The Scorecard:
As the ICC World Cup T20 starts tomorrow India has cause to worry about failing to contain Pakistan with five frontline bowlers including the comeback man Harbhajan Singh. Irfan Pathan who seemed to have continued his terrific form in the last practice match against Sri Lanka failed miserably today. Another worry being India’s over-dependence on Virat Kohli his super batting form notwithstanding. For the pluses Rohit Sharma seems to have found form at last and that the sub-continental conditions would favor India.
India, Sri Lanka and South Africa are the hot favorites for the title, but in this shortest format of the game any weak team is immensely capable of surprising the biggies. Besides, Pakistan as ever with its glorious unpredictability, West Indies with Chris Gayle back, defending champions England though without Kevin Pietersen, sharp as ever cricket by New Zealand and yet to be beaten by India in T20 history, and even supposed minnows Bangladesh—all have their chances to win the title. Australia who could never make it good in T20 and lost the practice match to England is the darkest of all horses!
Tomorrow hosts Sri Lanka play Zimbabwe in the inaugural match. India play their first match against largely unknown Afghanistan on the 19th. A combination of league and round robin the tournament is little complicated. Two top teams from four groups go to the Super 8s. The Super 8s stage consists of the top two teams from each group of the group stage. Even at this level the teams are split into two groups, Groups E and F. Group E will consist of the top seed from Groups A and C, and the second seed of groups B and D. Group F will consist of the top seed from Groups B and D, and the second seed of groups A and C. Thanks to the rules number of matches gets reduced and the chances of archrivals like India and Pakistan meeting each other at this stage is uncertain.
With nations and national pride involved the shortest format of cricket, normally used for commercial purposes, the ICC World Cup T20 2012 in Sri Lanka is eagerly awaited and is expected to be keenly fought.