Lucky 13: Babar’s Pakistan break India jinx in style

(Reuters) – Captain Babar Azam led by example as Pakistan beat India in a World Cup showdown for the first time ever with a 10-wicket romp in a Super 12 blockbuster at the Twenty20 World Cup on Sunday.

Shaheen Afridi (3-31) headlined Pakistan’s disciplined bowling effort to restrict arch-rivals India to a modest 151-7 in a rematch of the inaugural 2007 final.

Babar and opening partner Mohammad Rizwan then returned to overwhelm the target with 13 balls to spare and register Pakistan’s maiden win against India in a World Cup in their 13th attempt.

“We executed our plans well and the early wickets were very helpful,” Babar, who remained not out on 68, said after the victory which triggered wild celebrations in the Pakistan camp.

“The plan with Rizwan was to keep it simple. We tried to get deep in the crease and from about the eighth over, the dew came in and the ball came on nicely.”

“This is just the start, we have confidence to build on this win,” Babar said after beginning their Group Two campaign in style.

Rizwan made an unbeaten 79 in the high-octane match and was mobbed by team mates after the memorable victory.

Wary of the dew factor, captains have preferred to field and Babar too followed that trend after winning the toss.

Pakistan did not have to wait long for a breakthrough as Shaheen Afridi (3-31) struck twice in his first seven deliveries to rattle India.

The left-arm pacer, who was adjudged man-of-the-match, fired in a searing yorker-length delivery to dismiss Rohit Sharma lbw for a golden duck and, in his next over, rifled one through KL Rahul’s gate to rearrange the stumps.

Suryakumar Yadav hit Afridi for a six but Rizwan took a diving catch behind the stumps to dismiss the batsman and reduce India to 31-3 in the sixth over.

Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant calmed nerves in the Indian camp and guided the team to 60-3 at the halfway stage of the innings.

Pant then decided to counter-attack and hit Hasan Ali for back-to-back sixes but his ultra-aggression ultimately did him in.

Shadab Khan foxed Pant with a googly to induce a skier which the spinner caught himself to dismiss the batsman for 39.

Kohli topscored for India with a classy 57 but fell in the penultimate over of the innings trying to accelerate.

Pakistan, in their reply, not only kept their wickets intact in the powerplay overs but also scored briskly with Babar and Rizwan killing off the contest with their rock-solid stand.

Babar brought up his fifty in style, hitting spinner Varun Chakravarthy for a six, while Rizwan reached his own fifty with a pulled boundary off Jasprit Bumrah.

“We did not execute the things that we wanted to but credit is certainly due – they outplayed us today,” Kohli said after the chastening outing.

“When you lose three early wickets, it’s very difficult to come back, especially when you know the dew is coming. They were very professional with the bat as well.”