World T20: India beat Pakistan
Hosts India revived their World Twenty20 hopes by beating fierce rivals Pakistan by six wickets in Kolkata.
On a difficult surface in a rain-affected match of 18 overs a side, Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 55 took India to their target of 119 in 15.5 overs.
Pakistan scraped 28 from their first six overs, but were dragged to 118-5 by Shoaib Malik (26) and Umar Akmal (22).
India have now played Pakistan in 10 matches at World Cups and World T20s without ever being defeated.
The pre-tournament favourites, who lost their first match to New Zealand, can still reach the semi-finals if they beat Australia and Bangladesh.
Pakistan too are still in the hunt for a last-four spot, but face tougher tests against the Australians and unbeaten Kiwis.
This was the most eagerly anticipated match of the competition, between two fierce rivals who seldom meet outside of international tournaments because of political tensions.
Indeed, the contest was moved from the Himalayan city of Dharmasala to Kolkata on security grounds, with Pakistan only agreeing to participate in the tournament on 11 March after receiving assurances from the Indian government.
More than 60,000 raucous fans packed into Eden Gardens, with crowds queuing outside well after play began, while some estimations put the global TV audience at one billion.
However, the contest itself was not particularly memorable, with the wicket making batting difficult for all but the brilliant Kohli.
The match was dominated by the surface on which it was played, with the amount of assistance offered to the slow bowlers at times making batting impossible.
India spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja in particular found sharp, spitting turn, often leaving the batsmen some distance from making contact with the ball.
For their part, Pakistan misread the conditions, omitting left-arm spinner Imad Wasim in favour of Mohammad Sami, who did at least justify his selection by bowling both Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina in successive deliveries.
It was a pitch that divided opinion, with some believing that T20 cricket should be about scoring runs, while others found it refreshing that bowlers were given the advantage.
After struggling against Ashwin and Jadeja, Pakistan were only taken to a competitive total by Malik and Akmal, who finally found regular boundaries against the pace bowlers later in the innings.
Pakistan’s hopes were further raised when Sami extracted extra bounce to have Dhawan and Raina play on to their stumps in almost identical fashion.
Kohli remained, though, and took the sting out the situation in a stand of 61 with Yuvraj Singh.
The right-hander played some superb cover drives and guides behind point, bowing down to former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who was in the crowd, when he passed 50.
In the next over, MS Dhoni hit the winning runs, and Kohli celebrated with more adulation of Tendulkar.
Pakistan face the challenge of New Zealand, who have won their opening two games, in Chandigarh on Tuesday, while India will be confident of beating Bangladesh in Bangalore a day later.